"THE SENTIMENTS OF THE HEART CANNOT SUBMIT TO BE DIRECTED BY THE RULE AND THE SQUARE": 1798 FIRST EDITION OF WILLIAM GODWIN'S IMPORTANT MEMOIR OF HIS LATE WIFE MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT
(WOLLSTONECRAFT, Mary) GODWIN, William. Memoirs of the Author of a Vindication of the Rights of Woman. London: Printed for J. Johnson, 1798. Small octavo, 20th-century full crimson morocco gilt, raised bands, marbled endpapers, top edge gilt. Housed in a custom slipcase. $4800.
First edition of William Godwin's memoir of his recently deceased wife, Mary Wollstonecraft, author of the landmark work A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, with engraved frontispiece portrait of her, handsomely bound in full morocco by Bayntun.
"Wollstonecraft's major work caused an outcry when it was published and is hailed as a cornerstone of feminism…. The central theme of the work on women's rights was that they should be educated to carry a responsibility in society equal to that of men. In disagreement with Rousseau… Wollstonecraft urged 'rational fellowship instead of slavish obedience'" (Legacies of Genius 64). Vindication of the Rights of Woman was written in a "plain and direct style, and it was this as well as the idea of writing a book on the subject at all, which caused the outcry that ensued… she argued for equality of education for both sexes… 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, which they could be only if they were educated in the same way" (PMM 242). "While the American statesman Aaron Burr declared 'your sex has in her an able advocate… a work of genius' (and John Adams teased his wife, Abigail, for being a 'Disciple of Wollstonecraft!') Horace Walpole's reaction was more typical. He called her a 'hyena in petticoats'" (New York Times). "She was the first woman to articulate publicly a request for women's suffrage and coequal education… Although Wollstonecraft is best known as a feminist thinker, her philosophies are not limited to women's issues… Wollstonecraft advocates liberty and equality for all humanity. Advancing arguments for political rights, she argues for the removal of traditional injustices of rank, property, class, and gender… The key to freedom lies in the reasoning individual conscience, not in laws or dogma… Wollstonecraft adamantly asserts that education inculcating reason will eventually emancipate all humankind from all forms of servitude (political, sexual, religious, or economic)" (Great Thinkers of the Western World, 322-327). Bound without half title; with final leaf of publisher's advertisements. Windle & Pippin, Bibliography of Wollstonecraft, 56.
A fine copy, handsomely bound.