Mary Wollstonecraft is famous for her Vindication of the Rights of Women and she's famous for being Mary Shelley's mother. But I hadn't known until today that her two fames are linked in a very sad way - she died as a result of childbirth.
As a young woman caught up in the excitement of the women's movement, I was not much interested in historical feminism - or feminists. It felt to me as if we had already surpassed anything they had written about [if only, I think now] and my time was better spent reading contemporary theorists and novelists. It wasn't such a conscious and arrogant decision as it sounds - it was more that I never felt much interest in them, there was too much going on now.
Nowadays I have, I hope, a much bigger appreciation of how impressive women such as Wollstonecraft were. I feel a connection to her voice across time. And it came almost as a physical blow to me to hear that she'd died in that way. What an incredibly cruel irony that someone who argued so eloquently that women were not inferior due to their biology should have died as a direct result of her femaleness. As so many millions of women have done.