‘A genius will educate itself’: Mary Wollstonecraft as Autodidact

  • Caroline Franklin
Part of the Literary Lives book series (LL)


Mary Wollstonecraft was born in Primrose Street, London, on 27 April 1759, the second child and eldest daughter of Edward and Elizabeth Wollstonecraft. Her mother’s maiden name was Dickson; she was an Irish Protestant from Ballyshannon. If Mary’s secondary status in the eyes of her parents through her sex and age was calculated to sting Wollstonecraft into proving herself, then her loss of economic and class status as a young woman would be another spur. Her grandfather had been a wealthy silk merchant in Spitalfields who had left £10,000 to his son, but Mary’s father tried to distance himself from trade and set up as a gentleman farmer first in Essex, and then near Beverley in Yorkshire, quickly ruining himself and the whole family through extravagance and incompetence.


Female Education Young Lady Female Artist Literary Life Print Culture 
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Copyright information

© Caroline Franklin 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caroline Franklin
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WalesSwanseaUK

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