A Vindication of the Rights of Women
One of the earliest works of protofeminist thought, this startling prescient 1792 book is the first published argument advocating for the societal elevation of women as the intellectual and emotional equals of men. Written against the background of the French Revolution--the debate over which caused an uproar in both England and France--and the 1791 statement by French diplomat Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord to the French National Assembly that women should be educated only in domestic matters, this is a furious reprimand of the prevailing attitudes of late-18th-century Europe that women should be docile, virtuous, and untroubled by any matters beyond the home. Well received in its day and still an important resource for anyone wishing to understand the history of feminism, this extended essay demolishes the sexual double standard of the day, offers a rational defense for the education of girls, and demands merely that women be treated as people. British writer and educator MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT (1759-1797), the mother of Frankenstein author Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, espoused her then-radical feminist and liberal philosophies in other such works as Thoughts on the Education of Daughters (1787) and History and Moral View of the Origins and Progress of the French Revolution (1793).