Gilbert imlay

The life and loves of Mary Wollstonecraft

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. Wollstonecraft, born in 1759, was determined to live independently by her pen. Joseph Johnson, ‘the father of the book trade’, recognised her talent,