Mary Hays (1760–1843) was born into a middle-class Dissenting family in Southwark. She educated herself through a series of epistolary exchanges with leading radical intellectuals, notably Robert Robinson (1735–90), William Frend (1757–1841), with whom she fell in love, and Godwin. Towards the end of the 1780s, she attended lectures by tutors at the newly-established Hackney Dissenting Academy. In 1791 she published a pamphlet called Cursory Remarks on an Enquiry into the Expediency and Propriety of Public or Social Worship, signed ‘Eusebia’, in which she defended the Dissenting practice of public worship against the recent attack on it by Gilbert Wakefield (1756–1801), a teacher at Hackney. Thereafter Hays became a member of the group of radical writers and intellectuals centred round the Unitarian publisher Joseph Johnson (see Biographical Glossary), an affiliation confirmed by her publication in 1793 of Letters and Essays, Moral and Miscellaneous, a work greatly influenced by the feminist arguments of Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792).