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Wollstonecraft, Mary.

Vindication of the Rights of Women, A.


A Lovely Copy Of A Foundational Defense Of Women
Wollstonecraft, Mary. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. With strictures on political and moral subjects. London: Printed for J. Johnson, 1792.
8vo.; previous owner's discrete signature; contemporary drab paper boards, rebacked to style; recent paper label; a lovely, uncut copy. Housed in a specially made quarter-morocco slipcase.
First edition of this legendary feminist text. Windle A5a. A fine copy, in very fresh condition, of the most celebrated argument for women's equality. According to Printing and the Mind of Man: "[Wollstonecraft] did not attack the institution of marriage or the practice of religion. Instead, she argued for equality of education for both sexes, and for state control and co-education. It was a rational plea for a rational basis to the relation between the sexes...Its chief object was to show that women were not the playthings of men but ought to be their equal partners" (p. 242).
Vindication had been preceded, in 1790, by her much shorter "Vindication of the Rights of Men," a reply to Burke's attack on Price; it was published in Reflections on the Revolution in France.In her first "Vindication," Wollstonecraft identified herself with democracy and protested the trivialization of women in British culture, themes, which she would explore at greater length in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman two years later. Wollstonecraft's classic feminist text, a chaotically written but rhetorically powerful plea for fundamental change in society's perception of women's function, place, and potential, was dedicated to Tallyrand in the vain hope of influencing legislation on women's education then before the French Assembly. It is, even today, a necessary addition to every feminist library; First editions in unblemished original condition are notoriously uncommon. Wollstonecraft evidently planned a continuation (the text concludes, "End of Vol. I" on page 452), but no companion volume ever appeared.
Although the Vindication was Wollstonecraft's best known work on women's rights it was by no means her last word on the subject. She was engaged with feminist causes throughout her life and her last novel, The Wrongs of Women, protested against society's shoddy treatment of middle and working class women. Wollstonecraft died in 1797, eleven days after the birth of her daughter, the future Mary Shelley.

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