‘An Amazon stept out’: Wollstonecraft and the Revolution Debate

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


The Dissenters’ campaign for full civil rights coincided with the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789. The nonconformist bourgeois liberalism of Price, Priestley and Burgh, based on Locke and the equality of all men in the sight of God, became spiced with a heady new radicalism. Gone was the Whiggish myth that reform only meant a return to an earlier better-balanced constitution. Thomas Paine, William Blake and William Godwin, all from artisan-class Dissenting roots but having abandoned institutional religion, boldly proclaimed that the rights of all men were natural and inalienable. The reform of parliament and the constitution was just the beginning of the progress they imagined. The plight of the rural poor and the new urban and industrialized working class cried out for social and economic reform. Lower-class agitators such as Thomas Spence and Daniel Eaton arose and publicized their communitarian schemes for redistributing land or wealth in ballad sheets and broadsides.1


French Revolution Female Education Woman Writer Literary Life Institutional Religion 
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Copyright information

© Caroline Franklin 2004

Authors and Affiliations

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

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