Mary Wollstonecraft Born
Mary Wollstonecraft is born in the Spitalfields neighborhood of London. She is the second of seven children of John Edward and Elizabeth Dickson Wollstonecraft.
Moves to Hoxton
After a series of moves around England as John Edward looks unsuccessfully for work, the Wollstonecrafts move to Hoxton, a London suburb. Mary Wollstonecraft befriends Mr. and Mrs. Clare, who become a second family to her and encourage her education.
Meets Fanny Blood
Wollstonecraft meets Fanny Blood, a young woman her age who becomes her best friend.
Moves to Wales
The Wollstonecrafts move to Wales.
Back to London
The Wollstonecrafts leave Wales and move to the Walworth suburb of London.
Gets Her First Job
Wollstonecraft moves to Bath to take a position as a companion to an elderly woman named Sarah Dawson. She and her ornery elderly client don't get along well.
Moves Back to London
Late in the year, Wollstonecraft moves back to London to care for her ailing mother.
Wollstonecraft's mother Elizabeth dies. Her father remarries immediately, and Wollstonecraft moves in with the family of Fanny Blood, her best friend.
Moves in With Sister
In the winter, Wollstonecraft moves in with her sister Eliza, who has just given birth to a baby. Wollstonecraft notices that her sister is depressed and believes she is suffering at the hands of her husband, Meredith Bishop.
Helps Eliza Flee
Wollstonecraft takes her sister away from her unhappy marriage, leaving the baby behind. The baby dies in August. Because of the damage to her reputation, Eliza is unable to re-marry and spends the rest of her life impoverished.
Fanny Blood, Eliza and Mary Wollstonecraft start a school for girls in Newington Green. Everina Wollstonecraft joins them soon after.
Fanny Blood Dies
Fanny Blood marries Hugh Skeys, becomes pregnant and sails to Portugal with him. Wollstonecraft accompanies her. Fanny Blood dies after complications from premature labor while she and Wollstonecraft are in Portugal. Her infant dies as well.
Wollstonecraft returns to London and finds that her school has encountered massive financial problems in her absence. She is forced to close it the following year.
Thoughts on the Education of Daughters
Inspired by her experiences with her school, Wollstonecraft pens the feminist tract Thoughts on the Education of Daughters, a polemic about women's education. She takes a job as governess to the Kingsborough family to support herself.
Wollstonecraft publishes her first and only novel, Mary, A Fiction. She also publishes a children's book entitled Original Stories from Real Life.
The French Revolution begins, inspiring Wollstonecraft and other English intellectuals. She publishes The Female Reader under a male pseudonym.
A Vindication of the Rights of Man
Wollstonecraft pens a scathing rebuttal to conservative Edmund Burke's anti-revolution treatise Reflections on the Revolution in France. A Vindication of the Rights of Man brings Wollstonecraft her first real attention as a writer.
Meets William Godwin
Mary Wollstonecraft meets political philosopher William Godwin at a dinner party. The fiercely intelligent, opinionated pair get into an argument and leave irritated with each other. "The interview was not fortunate,"36 Godwin recalls later.
A Vindication of the Rights of Women
Wollstonecraft publishes her most famous work, a manifesto arguing for greater equality between men and women. It is met with positive reviews, though some male readers are shocked.
Settles in Paris
Inspired by the ideals of the French Revolution, Wollstonecraft moves to Paris.
Wollstonecraft starts an affair with the American adventurer and entrepreneur Gilbert Imlay. They keep the relationship secret for first four months, then go public. The couple moves in together in Paris and plans a move to America. Though they do not marry, Imlay registers Wollstonecraft as his wife to protect her from anti-English sentiment in France.
Gives Birth to Daughter
Wollstonecraft gives birth to Fanny Imlay, her daughter with Gilbert. Imlay soon begins withdrawing from their relationship and moves back to London. Wollstonecraft publishes a political tract, An Historical and Moral View of the Origin and Progress of the French Revolution.
First Suicide Attempt
Distraught over Imlay's rejection of her, Wollstonecraft unsuccessfully attempts suicide in London.
Second Suicide Attempt
Wollstonecraft attempts suicide a second time by throwing herself in the Thames River. She leaps from London's Putney Bridge, but does not sink.
Finally Dumps Imlay
Wollstonecraft cuts off contact with Gilbert Imlay for good. She publishes Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, a travelogue of her voyage to Scandinavia the previous year.
Wollstonecraft and William Godwin meet once again, this time with happier results. They begin a romantic relationship that summer. The pair move in together and live as a couple.
A pregnant Mary Wollstonecraft marries William Godwin at London's St. Pancras Church.
Mary Shelley Born
Wollstonecraft gives birth to Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, the couple's only child. Mary Godwin grows up to marry poet Percy Shelley. She writes the novel Frankenstein under her married name, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.
Mary Wollstonecraft Dies
Mary Wollstonecraft dies as a result of complications from childbirth.
William Godwin publishes several posthumous pieces of his wife's writing. He also publishes her biography, Memoirs of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Women. His frank portrayal of Wollstonecraft's unconventional lifestyle posthumously destroys her reputation.