Becoming Mary Wollstonecraft

N.J. Mastro is working on her debut historical novel, Becoming Mary Wollstonecraft. Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) was an eighteenth-century British writer and philosopher and is widely considered the world's first feminist. You may direct inquiries regarding Mastro's work in progress here.

In 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft published her ground-breaking text, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, calling to attention the disparity in the way society educated half its population. At the time, Wollstonecraft was both admired and scorned for her audacity. Yet her words live on well after her death and inspired women's movements around the globe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, demonstrating the impact of a single person's actions. She remains a relevant figure in the twenty-first century as women continue to look to her as a role model for equity, as evidence by this statue erected in her honor as recently as 2020. 

Becoming Mary Wollstonecraft reveals to readers a side of Mary Wollstonecraft too long hidden from view. Based on rich historical evidence, the novel chronicles Mary's ongoing search for her truest self. Headstrong and outspoken, she declares at fifteen to never marry, knowing it will subject her to a man's rule. Yet she is desperate to break free of her violent father and a battered mother who despises her. If Mary is to escape and live singly, she must find a way to earn her own living.

Disappointed with her limited employment options, Mary takes what jobs are available to middle-class women. She finds herself living in storied places while in service to Great Britain's aristocracy but is not content to be a spectator of other people's lives. Through grit and determination, she becomes a successful writer and philosopher.


The life of independence she so desires, however, comes at a price. As this avowed spinster matures, she must untangle what truly drives her and reckon with desires she never expected to encounter. With her propensity to defy convention, scandals ensue, propelling her across Europe in search of answers.