The Newington Green Action Group (NGAG)
The regeneration of historic Newington Green through local community effort by restoring it to popular use as a natural focus for the area.
Mary on the Green ~ Mary Wollstonecraft Memorial
In 1782, a 25 year old British woman from a dysfunctional family moved to Newington Green, London, with her sister and a friend. She rented accommodation, set up a girls’ school and attended the local Church.
Nothing unusual or newsworthy, you might think.
However, the young woman was Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-97), the minister at the Dissenting Church was Richard Price (1723-91) and their meeting would eventually change the course of world history. Richard Price was also a well respected philosopher and political thinker. His house at 54 Newington Green had become an important meeting place for radicals, intellectuals and reformers of the day, including Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, second US President John Adams and his wife Abigail, David Hume, Adam Smith, Joseph Priestley, Tom Paine and Wollstonecraft’s future publisher, Joseph Johnson.
Wollstonecraft’s move to Newington Green introduced her to this circle, radicalising her thinking and honing her sense of justice. After publishing books on girls’ education and civil rights, she went on to write ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Woman‘ (1792), which argued against women’s relegation to a state of ignorance and dependence and demanded “JUSTICE for one half of the human race“. The book would become a foundation in the history of women’s rights and Mary Wollstonecraft is now regarded by many as the mother of feminism. She would also become the first female war correspondent and travel writer and was an early anti-slavery commentator – all while she was a single mother.
Amazingly, it seems that there is no memorial sculpture to Mary Wollstonecraft – anywhere.
Whilst there are portraits of Mary Wollstonecraft at the National Portrait Gallery and the Wollstonecraft Gate at Spitalfields Market near to where she was born, there is no sculpture of Wollstonecraft, as far as we are aware. Newington Green Action Group has decided to rectify this situation and, with local community support, has initiated a campaign to erect a sculpture on Newington Green to recognise her achievements. If you would like to become involved with this exciting project please contact NGAG.