Ruth Scurr

The life and loves of Mary Wollstonecraft

Sylvana Tomaselli reveals how much the passionate, impulsive ‘mother of feminism’ achieved before her tragic death at the age of 38

Portrait by John Opie of Mary Wollstonecraft. Credit: Getty Images

What did Mary Wollstonecraft like and love? This is the question Sylvana Tomaselli, a lecturer at Cambridge University, asks herself at the start of her new book about the writer and philosopher who is often described as ‘the mother of feminism’. After the unveiling of Maggi Hambling’s controversial statue in honour of Wollstonecraft on Newington Green last November, and the vitriolic spats between its detractors and supporters that ensued, a book that refocuses attention on the person at the centre of the storm is a welcome relief.

Already a subscriber? Log in

Keep reading with a free trial

Get your first month free when you subscribe. After that it’s just £1 a week for full website and app access. There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.

Offer ends in: ${days} days ${hours} hrs ${minutes} mins ${seconds} secs

Unlock more articles



Flash sale:
10 weeks of unlimited digital access for £1

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Get 10 weeks of online and app access for just £1. That's a saving of more than 80% off the usual rate.

Already a subscriber? Log in