Thoughts on the Education of Daughters
Thoughts on the Education of Daughters is the first published work of the British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft. Published in 1787 by her friend Joseph Johnson, Thoughts is a conduct book that offers advice on female education to the emerging British middle class. Although dominated by considerations of morality and etiquette, the text also contains basic child-rearing instructions, such as how to care for an infant.
About Thoughts on the Education of Daughters in brief
Thoughts on the education of daughters: with reflections on female conduct, in the more important duties of life is the first published work of the British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft. Published in 1787 by her friend Joseph Johnson, Thoughts is a conduct book that offers advice on female education to the emerging British middle class. Although dominated by considerations of morality and etiquette, the text also contains basic child-rearing instructions, such as how to care for an infant. The book was only moderately successful: it was favourably reviewed, but only by one journal and it was reprinted only once. Although it was excerpted in popular contemporary magazines, it was not republished until the rise of feminist literary criticism in the 1970s. Like other conduct books of the time, Thoughts adapts older genres to the new middle-class ethos. The book encourages mothers to teach their daughters analytical thinking, self-discipline, honesty, contentment in their social position, and marketable skills. These goals reveal Wollstonescraft’s intellectual debt to John Locke; however, the prominence she affords religious faith and innate feeling distinguishes her work from his. Much of Thoughts is devoted to platitudes and advice common to all conduct books for women, but a few passages anticipate Wollestonecraft’s feminist arguments in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, such as her poignant description of the suffering single woman. She wrote to her sister that she was going to become the \”first of a new genus\” and published Mary: A Fiction, an autobiographical novel, in 1788.
Addressed to mothers, young women, and teachers, Thoughts on the Education of Daughters explains how to educate a woman from infancy through marriage. The first two chapters, \”The Nursery\” and \”Moral Discipline\”, offer advice on shaping the child’s mind and temper. These chapters also offer specific recommendations regarding the care of infants and endorse breastfeeding. Much of the book is based on benevolence and love, based on early reading, and based on a description of early childhood. She also delves into the heart of the girl who entered into such scenes of woe, and delved into the deluge of love and delirium of childhood. The predominantly domestic role that she viewed for women was interpreted by 20th-century feminist literary critics as paradoxically confining them to the private sphere. She sold the copyright for only ten guineas to a publisher recommended to her by a friend; they became friends and he encouraged her writing throughout her life. She tried her hand at being a governess, but she chafed at her lowly position and refused to accommodate herself to her employers. The modest success of Thoughts and Johnson’s encouragement emboldened Wollstoncraft to embark on a career as a professional writer, a precarious and somewhat disreputable profession for women during the 18th century. The title alludes to Burgh’s Thoughts on Education, which in turn alludesto John Locke’s 1693 work, Some Thoughts Concerning Education. She, her sister, and a close friend founded a boarding school in Newington Green.