In her Letters on Education (1790), Catharine Macaulay argues forcefully that an ideal education fosters ‘the manly virtues’ in women, and dissuades them from an indulgent interest in traditional feminine frivolity. As one who bemoans ‘coquetry’, Macaulay insists that such superficiality is ‘as dangerous as it is dishonourable’ and should be discouraged in favour of a female character that is ‘grave, manly, noble, full of strength and majesty ...’.1 Moreover, it is well known that Macaulay’s attention to ‘the manly virtues’, so crucial to her idealized profile of a serious and educated woman, greatly influenced the thought of Mary Wollstonecraft, whose A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) constitutes a founding manifesto in Western feminist theory.2 Given the historical and intellectual weight of these two texts, it behoves those interested in feminism to unpack precisely what these authors mean by ‘the manly virtues’, and to ascertain if indeed they mean the same thing. This is a worthwhile undertaking, given that it offers insight into why Wollstonecraft’s writings have had a more profound impact on Western feminism – as indeed on Western political thought – than have Macaulay’s. Wollstonecraft exhorts women to be ‘manly’ for reasons differing from those of her predecessor, and these differences explain why Wollstonecraft now assumes canonical status while Macaulay remains less well known.