"LIBERTY AND EQUALITY FOR ALL HUMANITY": 1792 FIRST EDITION OF MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT'S LANDMARK VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN
WOLLSTONECRAFT, Mary. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: With Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects. London: Printed for J. Johnson, 1792. Octavo, period style full speckled brown calf, burgundy morocco spine label, marbled edges. $19,500.
First edition of Wollstonecraft's classic work on freedom, equality and education, with Volume I the only volume published, a splendid copy handsomely bound.
"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). Volume One was the only volume published. Windle A5a. ESTC T50903. Goldsmiths 15366. CBEL II:656. Title page with small embossed library stamp, faint shelf number, inkstamped number to the verso.
Text generally fresh with faint marginal dampstaining mainly to early leaves, light scattered foxing. A very scarce near-fine copy.