Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–1797) was an English novelist and political writer. In A Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790), she defended the French Revolution against Edmund Burke’s attack (see selection 4.29 for excerpts from Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France). In her longer and more famous book, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), Wollstonecraft argued that “the rights of man” must extend to the other half of the human race, namely, women. In this second Vindication, from which the following selection is taken, Wollstonecraft places particular emphasis upon the importance of education. Education is vital to men and women alike, she believed, for it enables them to acquire knowledge and to develop reason and virtue. Indeed, her claim is that women, “in common with men, are placed on this earth to unfold their faculties”—that is, their talents and abilities.