“The first of a new genus —”: Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Hays, and The Analytical Review

  • Mary A. Waters
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the Enlightenment, Romanticism and Cultures of Print book series (PERCP)


On 7 November 1787 Mary Wollstonecraft, the 28-year-old former proprietor of an only temporarily successful girls’ school and author of a treatise on education, who had recently been discharged from her position as governess with the family of an Irish peer, wrote to her sister Everina: “Mr Johnson […] assures me that if I exert my talents in writing, I may support myself in a comfortable way. I am then going to be the first of a new genus — I tremble at the attempt.”1 When she wrote this, Wollstonecraft was well aware she was not the first woman to try to support herself through writing. Only recently arrived in London, she had not yet made the acquaintance of the numerous women writers who were to be a part of her circle in the coming years. Still, she had read sufficient educational literature, conduct books, novels, and poetry by women to realize that some women were earning income by writing. In publications by women writers prefaces apologizing on the grounds of financial need for the transgressive immodesty of going public had become common enough to seem almost a cliché. In fact, Wollstonecraft had herself recently turned author to ease financial embarrassments that resulted when she tried to set to rights a family headed by her profligate and inept father. What she recognized as unique about her new relationship with bookseller Joseph Johnson was the nature of the business arrangement.


Eighteenth Century Public Sphere Literary Criticism Literary Work Analytical Review 
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Copyright information

© Mary A. Waters 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary A. Waters
    • 1
  1. 1.Wichita State UniversityUSA

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