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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
January 2020
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Book description

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–1797) was one of the most influential and controversial women of her age. No writer, except perhaps her political foe, Edmund Burke, and her fellow reformer, Thomas Paine, inspired more intense reactions. In her brief literary career before her untimely death in 1797, Wollstonecraft achieved remarkable success in an unusually wide range of genres: from education tracts and political polemics, to novels and travel writing. Just as impressive as her expansive range was the profound evolution of her thinking in the decade when she flourished as an author. In this collection of essays, leading international scholars reveal the intricate biographical, critical, cultural, and historical context crucial for understanding Mary Wollstonecraft's oeuvre. Chapters on British radicalism and conservatism, French philosophes and English Dissenters, constitutional law and domestic law, sentimental literature, eighteenth-century periodicals and more elucidate Wollstonecraft's social and political thought, historical writings, moral tales for children, and novels.


'An impressive showcase for the breadth and depth of current scholarship.'

E. J. Clery Source: Times Literary Supplement

‘Contributors' cross-references to other entries in the book allow readers to follow specific lines of inquiry. Notable for its breadth, this collection positions Wollstonecraft as a major feminist writer, literary critic, and social commentator.’

C. L. Bandish Source: Choice

‘… Wollstonecraft in Context offers a richly veined resource to borrow, to browse, to burrow into.’

Susan J. Wolfson Source: The Wordsworth Circle

‘The collection successfully breathes new life into the static, and oftentimes caricatured, conception of Wollstonecraft as a pioneering feminist by giving equal valence to her work as novelist, letter writer, reviewer, educator, and translator … These collected essays succeed at nuancing Wollstonecraft’s life and work while unfolding new avenues for investigation.’

Adela Ramos Source: Eighteenth-Century Fiction

‘The book offers a cogent narrative for understanding Wollstonecraft’s thinking as historically grounded …’

Ashley Cross Source: European Romantic Review

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