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Tracing the Footsteps of Trailblazer Mary Wollstonecraft in London and Paris

Mary Wollstonecraft by John Opie (c. 1797)

English writer, philosopher, and pioneering feminist Mary Wollstonecraft left an indelible mark during her brief yet influential life. Through acclaimed works like A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, she eloquently promoted equality between the sexes at a time when revolutionary concepts like women’s rights lacked support.

For fans of Wollstonecraft’s writing or intrigued by her revolutionary role pushing for women’s education and independence, visiting the places she inhabited across London and Paris provides an enriching opportunity. Walking in Mary’s footsteps through these storied European cities allows you to better understand the environments that shaped her thinking and writing.

From the Newington Green school she founded in London to the Parisian apartment where she penned pivotal speeches, key sites dotted throughout Wollstonecraft’s old neighborhoods help breathe life into the passion that drove her work. Immerse yourself by exploring her publisher’s office, browsing her favorite Louvre artworks, or sipping coffee at the same café table Mary once sat at fervently debating issues of the day.

Through thoughtful pacing, preparing with biographical background, and imagining Mary’s path through 18th century London and revolutionary Paris, devotees can trace her evolution as an author, teacher, and pioneering advocate for women’s place in society. Follow in the footsteps of the writer who fearlessly fought for female potential.

A literary travel itinerary: Mary Wollstonecraft in London and Paris

Walking Through Wollstonecraft's London

Mary Wollstonecraft was born in Spitalfields, London in 1759. Though she spent time elsewhere during her career, London served as her home base where she broke ground in journalism, publishing, and education for women. Several sites around England’s bustling capital city provide glimpses into Mary’s trailblazing path:

Newington Green – It was in this north London neighborhood that Mary and her sisters founded a girl’s boarding school in the 1780s amongst progressive thinkers. Walk the vibrant area and imagine young women getting their first taste of empowered education.

Somers Town – Near Euston station, Mary resided and ran a school in the 1780s. Seek out remnants of her time teaching girls and young women subjects like science and business.

Eton Square – Prior to departing for France in late 1792, Mary lived briefly in this central London address. Locate it off Buckingham Palace Road.

Store Street – Here in the West End stood the publishing office of radical thinker Joseph Johnson, who published Wollstonecraft’s work.

St Pancras Churchyard – Mary was laid to rest in old St Pancras churchyard after passing at age 38 from complications in childbirth. A memorial plaque marks her legacy.

From Mary’s modest Soho schoolrooms to the publisher who printed her vindication for women’s equality, London stones echo with her conviction that “I only wish them to have power over themselves.”

Parisian Steps of a Revolutionary Thinker

In December 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft departed London for Paris just as the French Revolution was gripping the city. She remained immersed in Parisian political society until returning to England in 1795. From lively cafés to the intellectual salons of revolutionary leaders, several sites revolving around Mary's Parisian days persists:

Rue de Cerutti - It was at this address near the Louvre that Mary resided during her life in Paris while passionately writing and debating matters of human rights.

Louvre Museum - This world-famous art museum was frequently visited by Mary, who took inspiration from its treasures and gardens.

Café Procope - Still in operation, this café on Rue de l'Ancienne Comédie was regularly visited by Mary and her circle of intellectuals and activists.

What Café Procope looks like today

Imagine debating Voltaire’s ideas over café au lait like Mary, strolling the Palais-Royal, or witnessing the aftermath of the Reign of Terror firsthand as you transport yourself back to her tumultuous Parisian days.

Tips for Tracing Mary's Footsteps

If you’re inspired to embark on your own journey following Mary Wollstonecraft’s path through London and Paris, here are some tips to make your visit smooth and meaningful:

• Go during milder months like May, September, and October to avoid crowds and extreme weather.

• Read a biography like William Godwin's Memoirs of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman to better understand Mary's life before visiting.

• Plan your route to cluster stops together, allocating 2-4 days per city.

• Take walking tours focused on women's history in each city to provide context and transport you back in time.

• Allot time to also visit key museums, dine at bistros, people watch at cafés, and wander neighborhoods as Mary did.

• Keep a journal while traveling to record your impressions and insights to look back on.

With thoughtful preparation and pacing, fans can have an enriching visit connecting with the courageous spirit of Mary Wollstonecraft.

Traces of a Trailblazer's Legacy

Retracing Mary Wollstonecraft's groundbreaking path through the streets of 18th century London and revolutionary Paris offers inspiring lessons for anyone embracing her fight for women's liberation today.

Walking where she walked provides intimate perspective into the environments and experiences that shaped Wollstonecraft's worldview as she crafted her vindication of women's equality. You gain insight into her perseverance in the face of adversity.

Seeing Mary's modest homes and schools conjures images of her teaching women denied education and opportunity. Strolling through her Parisian neighborhood inspires reflection on the passions fueled while debating human rights over café crepes. These places breathe life into Mary's convictions.

Though many sites remain centuries later, we must continue moving forward with Mary's vision for female empowerment and independence from male domination. Visit where she lived, then honor her efforts by fearlessly advocating for women's rights in your own communities. As Wollstonecraft urged, "I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves."

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