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A Vindication of the Rights of Woman:...

With Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects.

Availability: In stock

Published: London printed for J. Johnson, 1792

Stock Code: 131142

OR On display in 43 Dover Street


First edition of the first great feminist treatise. Mary Wollstonecraft (17591797) argued in her groundbreaking manifesto that the rights of man and of woman were one and the same thing. Her demand for "justice for one-half of the human race" was too revolutionary for her time, but she found a following among radicals and educated women, and succeeded in initiating a new regard for women as an important social force. Wollstonecraft preached that intellect would always govern, and she sought "to persuade women to endeavour to acquire strength, both of mind and body, and to convince them that the soft phrases, susceptibility of heart, delicacy of sentiment, and refinement of taste, are almost synonimous sic with epithets of weakness".
A second edition was published the same year, but a planned second volume was never written, not least because Wollstonecraft's confidence had been severely shaken by her tumultuous affair with Gilbert Imlay. Five years later she met and married William Godwin and died giving birth to their daughter Mary, future author of Frankenstein.

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Octavo (203 x 128 mm). Contemporary speckled half calf, red morocco spine label, flat spine ruled in compartments in gilt, marbled paper-covered boards. Housed in a brown quarter morocco solander box by the Chelsea Bindery.


Two early 20th-century ownership inscriptions to front pastedown and front free endpaper in ink and pencil; the first a gift inscription, "Mrs Horace Brock with Dr Henry Biddle's respects and best wishes, January 1915"; possibly to one Mrs Horace Brock, President of the Pennsylvania Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage. The second, "J. Biddle, June 1916, London" - the Biddle and Brock families were connected by several marriages. Additionally with two newspaper clippings laid in, both book reviews (New York Times and Time Magazine, 1975) of Claire Tomalin's biography of Wollstonecraft. Joints and spine ends expertly restored, front board professionally reattached, short closed tear to top edge of Advertisement leaf, one tiny puncture (paper flaw) to fore edge of leaf H7, repaired paper tear to bottom corner of M1, else a very good copy, contents clean, only occasionally tanned and foxed.


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