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Original Stories From Real Life


Original Stories From Real Life


Original Stories from Real Life is the only complete work of children's literature extant by Mary Wollstonecraft.

She wrote it to provide a model for teachers and pupils that would ‘fix principles of truth and humanity on a solid and simple foundation’, as she explains in her preface.

She argued that women would be then be able to become rational adults if they were educated properly as children, which was not a widely held belief in the 18th century.

Her design is elegant: a series of conversations take place between a Mrs. Mason and two young relatives whose education she has undertaken. Fourteen year-old Mary and twelve year-old Caroline are motherless and are lacking the good habits they should have absorbed by example.

Mrs. Mason intends to remedy this by guiding them constantly and answering all their questions as best she can.

Each chapter addresses a particular moral failing: for example, in Chapter VII, Mrs. Mason discusses the sins of pride and vanity, using the example of roses and tulips in her garden.

She uses the flowers to teach the distinction between something that is outwardly showy but has no substance – the tulips – and something more modest but long lasting and sweet smelling – the roses. These metaphors represent the beauty that comes from internal goodness.



MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT (1759-1797) was a writer, philosopher, and pioneering advocate of women's rights. Best known for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), Wollstonecraft argued that women were not inferior to men, but only appeared to be because they lacked access to education. She suggested that both men and women should be treated as rational beings and imagined a social order founded on justice and reason. She was the mother of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, author of Frankenstein.




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