Vindication of the Rights of Woman and The Wrongs of Woman, A, or Maria

Mary Wollstonecraft / Anne K. Mellor / Noelle Chao  
Total pages
May 2006
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Vindication of the Rights of Woman and The Wrongs of Woman, A, or Maria
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From Longman's Cultural Editions series, Wollstonecraft, edited by Anne K. Mellor and Noelle Chao, for the first time pairs Wollstonecraft’s feminist tract, the first in English letters, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, with her unfinished novel, The Wrongs of Woman, or Maria.


By putting tract and novel together, this text presents a far richer and more complex discussion of Wollstonecraft’s political and literary opinions. A wealth of cultural contexts bearing on the “wrongs” of woman (their social and political oppression) in the 18th century and on the development of the Gothic and realist novel further clarify these two texts.


Handsomely produced and affordably priced, the Longman Cultural Editions series presents classic works in provocative and illuminating contexts-cultural, critical, and literary. Each Cultural Edition consists of the complete text of an important literary work, reliably edited, headed by an inviting introduction, and supplemented by helpful annotations; a table of dates to track its composition, publication, and public reception in relation to biographical, cultural and historical events; and a guide for further inquiry and study.



  • Longman Cultural Editions are available for sale individually or a single volume can be packaged FREE with The Longman Anthology of British Literature.
  • This volume is the first to combine Wollstonecraft’s The Rights of Woman with her Wrongs of Woman. Her last novel provides a grim assessment of the possibility of realizing the utopian feminist program Wollstonecraft advocated in Vindication of the Rights of Woman. By giving numerous examples of the social oppression of women from all classes, The Wrongs of Woman, or Maria, mounts a powerful indictment of eighteenth-century gender roles. It also analyses the role that autobiographical writing as such can play in the liberation of women.
  • The Contexts sections place Wollstonecraft’s feminist tracts in dialogue with the radical, moderate and conservative discourses of her day concerning the political, economic and moral roles and responsibilities of women. They also draw on the novels to which Wollstonecraft refers in The Wrongs of Woman, to document Wollstonecraft’s indebtedness to and criticisms of Rousseau, Burney, Godwin and the Gothic novel.
  • Unlike earlier paperback editions of The Wrongs of Woman, or Maria, this edition offers copious annotations, headnotes, relevant context selections, and reviews of Wollstonecraft’s posthumous publication.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations.

About Longman Cultural Editions.

About This Edition.


Table of Dates.

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.

Maria, or The Wrongs of Woman.


The Rights of Women.

The Condition of Women.

from A Report from the Committee appointed to Enquire into the State of the Private Madhouses in this Kingdom (1763) .

from The Mansfield Judgment (1772).

Johann Wilhelm von Archenholz, “Women of the Town,” from A Picture of England (1789).

Catherine Sawbridge Macaulay, from Letters on Education (1790).

Responses to Wollstonecraft.

Anna Letitia Barbauld, “The Rights of Woman” (1825; comp. 1793).

Mary Hays, from Letters and Essays, Moral, and Miscellaneous (1793).

Richard Polwhele, from The Unsex’d Females (1798).

Priscilla Bell Wakefield, from Reflections on the Present Condition of the Female Sex; with Suggestions for its Improvement (1798).

Mary Anne Radcliffe, from The Female Advocate (1799).

Hannah More, from Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education (1799).

William Thompson and Anna Wheeler, from Appeal of One Half the Human Race, Women, Against the Pretensions of the Other Half, Men, to Retain Them in Political, and Thence in Civil and Domestic Slavery (1825).

Literary Sources for Maria.

Jean-Jacque Rousseau, from La Nouvelle Heloise (1761; trans. William Kenrick, 1764).

Hannah More, from Sensibility: A Poetical Epistle to the Hon. Mrs. Boscawen (1782).

Ann Radcliffe, from A Sicilian Romance (1790).

William Godwin, from Caleb Williams (1794).

Frances Burney, from Camilla (1796).

Contemporary Reviews.

Reviews for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.

Reviews for Maria.

Further Reading.


Anne K. Mellor is Distinguished Professor of English at UCLA. In addition to this co-edited volume, she has edited the canon-transforming anthology of Romantic era writing with Richard Matlak, British Literature 1780-1830; Romanticism and Feminism (Indiana UP, 1988); Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1995); The Other Mary Shelley (with Audrey Fisch and Esther Schor); Passionate Encounters in a Time of Sensibility (with Maximilian Novak); Forging Connections: Women's Poetry from the Renaissance to Romanticism (with Jonathan Post and Felicity Nussbaum). She currently edits, with Clifford Siskin, the Palgrave Series in the Enlightenment, Romanticism and the Cultures of Print. The winner of numerous teaching and scholarly awards and fellowships, she is the author of the following critical books: Blake's Human From Divine (1970), English Romantic Irony (1980); Mary Shelley: Her Life, Her Fiction, Her Monsters (1988); Romanticism and Gender (1993); Mothers of the Nation (2000). She will serve as the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar in 2008-2009.