An Author-Translator: Mary Wollstonecraft
Mary Wollstonecraft was born in April 27, 1759, in Spitalfields, London, as the second of seven children to Edward John and Elizabeth Wollstonecraft. She wasan English writer, philosopher, and women’s rights activist. In her short life, she wrote many books, including novels, philosophical treatises, travel books, and children’s books. Her works focused on women’s rights, equality, and feminism. Undoubtedly, she drew inspiration from her own life experiences and memories, as she faced numerous difficulties and injustices from birth until her death.
Her grandfather, a wealthy weaving master, left a legacy for the family. However, her father struggled to maintain steady employment, which had repercussions for both the author and the family. He exhibited negative behavior not only in his professional life but also in his personal life. Unfortunately, he was a drinker, gambler, and even abusive towards his mother and siblings. Throughout her youth, the author and her family endured financial and moral hardships. Given her mother’s passivity and illness, the author took it upon herself to protect her mother and siblings from her father. As a result, she developed a strong and combative character.
The constant quarrels at home and the financial difficulties made the author’s life increasingly challenging. Consequently, she left home and pursued various jobs. During that time, the opportunities for women in the workforce were severely limited. The author worked as a teacher and governess, navigating the limited options available to her.
Then, she returned to London and became a translator and advisor to Joseph Johnson, a renowned publisher of radical texts. Johnson assisted in publishing the author’s books and translations. Within four years, she published her most famous work, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792). In her work, the author discussed the rights of women who were subjected to violence and injustice by their husbands, including her mother and sister. During that time, women did not have the right to divorce their husbands without valid reasons. The ideas presented in her book were revolutionary at the time and sparked significant controversy.
The author’s personal life mirrored the misfortunes of her own family. During this period,her personal life attracted more attention than her career. Ultimately, she married William Godwin, the founder of philosophical anarchism. In 1797, their daughter Mary, who went on to write the famous novel Frankenstein, was born. Tragically, just eleven days after giving birth, Wollstonecraft passed away due to complications.
The author’s books have been translated into many languages, and Mary Wollstonecraft is now widely read and recognized as an author worldwide. Apart from A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, her other books that have been translated into Turkish include Original Stories from Real Life and Mary.
“My dreams were all my own;
I accounted for them to nobody;
they were my refuge whenannoyed
—my dearest pleasure when free.”