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50 Mary Wollstonecraft Quotes from Her Life and Work

These Mary Wollstonecraft quotes do a great job of showing who she was and what she stood for.

Mary Wollstonecraft was an English author and women’s rights advocate who lived in the late 1700s.

From her own life experiences, she formed a strong belief that society was holding women back in a way that was turning them into frustrated tyrants in the home.

She believed that it was important for women to be given the same education that men were in order for society to run successfully and she advocated for these rights.

While she lived less than 40 years, she made a lasting impact, largely through her book, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. 

You’ll get a great feel for her and her beliefs in these quotes.

Don’t forget to also check out these Jane Austen quotes on life, love, and friendship.

Mary Wollstonecraft Quotes about Gender and Equality

1. “I do not wish them [women] to have power over men, but over themselves.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

2. “Taught from infancy that beauty is woman’s sceptre, the mind shapes itself to the body, and roaming round its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

3. “The divine right of husbands, like the divine right of kings, may, it is hoped, in this enlightened age, be contested without danger.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

4. “Make women rational creatures, and free citizens, and they will quickly become good wives; – that is, if men do not neglect the duties of husbands and fathers.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

5. “Women ought to have representatives, instead of being arbitrarily governed without any direct share allowed them in the deliberations of government.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

6. “My own sex, I hope, will excuse me, if I treat them like rational creatures, instead of flattering their fascinating graces, and viewing them as if they were in a state of perpetual childhood, unable to stand alone.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

7. “It is vain to expect virtue from women till they are in some degree independent of men.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

8. “Strengthen the female mind by enlarging it, and there will be an end to blind obedience.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

9. “It is time to effect a revolution in female manners – time to restore to them their lost dignity – and make them, as a part of the human species, labour by reforming themselves to reform the world. It is time to separate unchangeable morals from local manners.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

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10. “Women are systematically degraded by receiving the trivial attentions which men think it manly to pay to their sex, when, in fact, men are insultingly supporting their own superiority.” – Mary Wollstonecraft
If you’re enjoying these quotes, make sure to check out our collection of international Women’s Day quotes celebrating womanhood.

Mary Wollstonecraft Quotes about Evil and Happiness

11. “No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

12. “Children, I grant, should be innocent; but when the epithet is applied to men or women, it is but a civil term for weakness.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

13. “They may be convenient slaves, but slavery will have its constant effect, degrading the master and the abject dependent.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

14. “All the sacred rights of humanity are violated by insisting on blind obedience.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

15. “The being who patiently endures injustice, and silently bears insults, will soon become unjust, or unable to discern right from wrong.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

16. “Solitude and reflection are necessary to give to wishes the force of passions.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

17. “Errors are often useful, but it is commonly to remedy other errors.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

18. “And having no fear of the devil before my eyes, I venture to call this a suggestion of reason, instead of resting my weakness on the broad shoulders of the first seducer of my frail sex.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

19. “Every political good carried to the extreme must be productive of evil.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

20. “From the respect paid to property flow, as from a poisoned fountain, most of the evils and vices which render this world such a dreary scene to the contemplative mind.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft Quotes about Values and Virtue

21. “Virtue can only flourish among equals.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

22. “It is justice, not charity, that is wanting in the world.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

23. “Simplicity and sincerity generally go hand in hand, as both proceed from a love of truth.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

24. “But what a weak barrier is truth when it stands in the way of a hypothesis!” – Mary Wollstonecraft

25. “Independence I have long considered as the grand blessing of life, the basis of every virtue; and independence I will ever secure by contracting my wants, though I were to live on a barren heath.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

26. “Only that education deserves emphatically to be termed cultivation of the mind which teaches young people how to begin to think.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

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27. “Those who are bold enough to advance before the age they live in…must learn to brave censure.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

28. “True sensibility, the sensibility which is the auxiliary of virtue, and the soul of genius, is in society so occupied with the feelings of others, as scarcely to regard its own sensations.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

29. “Let their faculties have room to unfold, and their virtues to gain strength, and then determine where the whole sex must stand in the intellectual scale.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

30. “It appears necessary to go back to first principles in search of the most simple truths, and to dispute with some prevailing prejudice every inch of ground.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft Quotes about Knowledge and Hope

31. “The beginning is always today.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

32. “Surely something resides in this heart that is not perishable – and life is more than a dream.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

33. “My dreams were all my own; I accounted for them to nobody; they were my refuge when annoyed – my dearest pleasure when free.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

34. “Only by the jostlings of equality can we form a just opinion of ourselves.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

35. “A little patience and all will be over.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

36. “Like the flowers that are planted in too rich a soil, strength and usefulness are sacrificed to beauty.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

37. “I earnestly wish to point out in what true dignity and human happiness consists.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

38. “The power of generalizing ideas, of drawing comprehensive conclusions from individual observations, is the only acquirement, for an immortal being, that really deserves the name of knowledge.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

39. “Into this error men have, probably, been led by viewing education in a false light; not considering it as the first step to form a being advancing gradually towards perfection, but only as a preparation for life.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

40. “The mind will ever be unstable that has only prejudices to rest on.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft Quotes about Love and Friendship

41. “Friendship is a serious affection; the most sublime of all affections, because it is founded on principle, and cemented by time.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

42. “I never wanted but your heart–that gone, you have nothing more to give.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

43. “Love from its very nature must be transitory. To seek for a secret that would render it constant would be as wild a search as for the philosopher’s stone or the grand panacea: and the discovery would be equally useless, or rather pernicious to mankind. The most holy band of society is friendship.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

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44. “Friendship and domestic happiness are continually praised; yet how little is there of either in the world, because it requires more cultivation of mind to keep awake affection, even in our own hearts, than the common run of people suppose.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

45. “It is far better to be often deceived than never to trust; to be disappointed in love, than never to love.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

46. “My husband – my king.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

47. “I like to see your eyes praise me and, during such recitals, there are interruptions, not ungrateful to the heart, when the honey that drops from the lips is not merely words.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

48. “To speak disrespectfully of love is, I know, high treason against sentiment and fine feelings; but I wish to speak the simple language of truth, and rather to address the head than the heart.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

49. “Love, the common passion, in which chance and sensation take place of choice and reason, is in some degree, felt by the mass of mankind; for it is not necessary to speak, at present, of the emotions that rise above or sink below love.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

50. “Parental affection is, perhaps, the blindest modification of perverse self-love.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

More Mary Wollstonecraft quotes and sayings

As a passionate author, writing must have been in her blood.

Just days before her death, she gave birth to her second child, Mary Wollstonecraft.

Mary went on to become Mary Shelly and eventually an author most well-known for the story of Frankenstein.

Mary’s ideas and beliefs on women’s rights were largely looked down upon during her time.

She was largely criticized for having two children out of wedlock instead of people focusing on her work.

However, eyes turned towards her work, and efforts in the 1900s as the women’s rights movement gained strength.

While her work might have been unappreciated during her time, it did not go unnoticed in history.

What’s your biggest takeaway from these Mary Wollstonecraft quotes and sayings?

Do you have any other favorite quotes to add?

Let us know in the comment section below.

Stephanie Kirby
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