Welcome to the Mary Hays Website  

Mary Hays is remembered today primarily as the friend who introduced William Godwin to Mary Wollstonecraft. She was, however, an important intellectual figure in her own right who published polemical essays in the 1790s, and who wrote a number of sentimental novels, biographies, and histories. She was an ardent champion of women's rights and an advocate for better education and work opportunities for women. Two of most interesting novels of the 1790s which are available to modern readers are:

Memoirs of Emma Courtney (1796)
The Victim of Prejudice (1799).

Hays was a notable figure in the literary circles of London in the 1790s, and was known to writers like Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas Holcroft, William Blake, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Elizabeth Inchbald, and Helen Maria Williams. Her life and philosophy were caricatured in Elizabeth Hamilton's Memoirs of Modern Philosophers (1800). Hays was also featured as a character in Charles Lloyd's anti-Jacobin, anti-Coleridge novel, Edmund Oliver (1798).



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Eleanor Ty
Department of English and Film Studies
Wilfrid Laurier University
Ontario, Canada

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