It could be a rather cryptic pub quiz question – where was the birth of feminism? Well, you might argue it originated right here in Hackney.
In 1782, a 25 year old Mary Wollstonecraft moved to Newington Green, then a Dissenting community, set up a local school and attended the local church (on the north side of Newington Green, Hackney). The minister of this church was Richard Price, who was also a well-respected philosopher and political thinker. Price’s house at 54 Newington Green played host to meetings between such luminaries as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and second US President John Adams.
Mary’s exposure to these progressive thinkers helped advance her thoughts about equality and the emancipation of women. She began publishing books on female education and civil rights, the most famous of which, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, is now considered the foundation of the modern feminist movement.
She led an unconventional life for her time and died aged just 38 whilst giving birth to her daughter – Mary Shelley of Frankenstein fame.
There is currently no memorial to this remarkable woman anywhere, and Newington Green Action Group (NGAG) want to rectify this by erecting a monument on the green in honour of her achievements. As an interim appreciation, they have planted the tree bases in the suffragette colours: purple and green.
Jenny Littlewood, Chair of Newington Green Action Group, said Wollstonecraft was: “outstanding, and revolutionised thinking about women. This memorial is long overdue. We have council permission to have sculpture on Newington Green which we hope will be complete within three years.”
More information about Newington Green Action Group.