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Born in to a large Dissenting family in Southwark, near London, Mary Hays lived quietly for the first seventeen years of her life. Inshe met and fell in love with John Eccles, a young man of similar background who lived across the way from her home. The relationship was frowned upon by both families, and the couple began a secret intimate correspondence which lasted for more than a year.

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I saw everything that was engaging and amiable in her face. This portrait of Hays is the only complimentary description of her which survives. However, Eccles was more than just a lover, he was a friend and Hays' mentor, often influencing her studies and choice of reading materials. Inthe engagement finally met the approval of both families and the couple Hays women sex plans to be married. Before their long-awaited love could be consumated though, John's health began to fail and within a short time, he died from fever on 23 August Hays was devastated by his demise, and wrote afterwards that the fatal day "blasted all the fond hopes of [her] youth.

At twenty-two, she had already experienced the only mutually-reciprocated love with a man that she would enjoy for the rest of her life. After Eccles' death, she turned to intellectual pursuits, to reading, writing, and corresponding with religious and political reformers. Between toHays exchanged letters with Baptist preacher and philanthropist, Robert Robinsonwho published Political Catechism.

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Robinson acted the part of confessor, healer, friend, and mentor, helping Hays through a difficult period in her early life. Similar to Samuel Johnson's Rasselasit is set in an exotic Orient and is didactic in tone. The hermit's lessons about excess passion are comparable to the theme of Hays' first novel, Emma Courtneypublished ten years later.

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His warning that strong passions "too often accompany superior talents, and endanger the most amiable and elevated minds" is subsequently echoed by Hays' autobiographical heroine Emma. Both Emma and the hermit discover after a losing their loved ones, that human bliss is to be found in "the real solid pleasures of nature and social affection, in the serene consciousness of a well-ordered conduct," in "regulated" passions, and "tranquillized" temper.

These ideas of moderation and of conduct based on reason reveal the influence of eighteenth-century thinking on Hays. Her next piece demonstrates her engagement with current religious issues. She also met George Dyer and William Frend probably in the early s.

Her Cursory Remarks on an Enquiry into the Expediency and Propriety of Public or Social Worship: Inscribed to Gilbert Wakefiedpublished in as "Eusebia", was a result of her involvement with this group of liberal reformers.

In the pamphlet, Hays addresses Wakefield's objections to communal prayer, and argues that public worship was necessary for the majority of men and women, who, she believed, were not ready for a purely mental and contemplative religion. The success of the second edition brought her the attention and friendship of William Frend, a Cambridge mathematician and reformer who was impressed with her "candour" and "sound reasoning," and who provided Hays with some romance in her life in the next few years.

The most influential person of this group was Mary Wollstonecraft whose Vindication of the Rights of Woman inspired Hays to publish her next work to which her sister, Elizabeth also contributed. After reading Rights of Woman Hays wrote to Wollstonecraft expressing her deep admiration for her.

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At Hays' request, they met in the late summer of and soon after, Hays wrote her seeking advice on Letters and Essays, Moral and Miscellaneous which was published the year after. Hays is later credited with bringing together through a tea party at her home Wollstonecraft and the philosopher, William Godwin, whom Wollstonecraft eventually married in Though most of Letters and Essays was already written before Hays met Wollstonecraft, Hays pays tribute to her in the Preface as the writer who "hath endeavoured to rescue the female mind from those prejudices by which it has been systematically weakened.

The style is mixed, sometimes it takes the form of conversational essays, Hays women sex times, of didactic narratives. Hays returns to the subject of female education in several of the letters protesting against the "degrading system of manners by which the understandings of women have been chained down to frivolity and trifles. In practical terms, the consequence of the system of education is that women have little employment opportunities:.

This concern for opportunities for single women without fortunes would re-surface in her first novel, in her essays in The Monthly Magazineand, to a lesser extent, in her second novel. Memoirs of Emma Courtneypublished inwas based on Hays' real life love and pursuit of William Frend. Frend, who first communicated to Hays in Apriladmired her work, and carried on a correspondence with her, but evidently did not reciprocate her passionate feelings for him.

The disappointed Hays turned to William Godwin for consolation and advice. In October after having already read his novel, Caleb WilliamsHays had written to Godwin to ask him for his copy of his Enquiry Concerning Political Justice which she could not obtain. He agreed to lend her the book, and this exchange began a strong intellectual bond and friendship between them which lasted six years. Godwin played the role of mentor in the same way as Eccles, Robinson, and Dyer Hays women sex earlier in Hays' life.

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As he was a sympathetic listener, Hays poured out to him her unhappiness over Frend. On Godwin's recommendation, she gathered together her letters to Frend and to Godwin, and used them in her philosophical novel which attempted to explore the link between reason and a woman's passion. Structurally as well as thematically, Hays demonstrates her contention that women are prevented from participating in many of the important functions of society, or to use one of her metaphors, they are "confined within a magic circle.

Emma's sexual and intellectual disappointments are mirrored by the novel's incessant and stifling pattern of frustrated desire and unfulfilled expectations. As an epistolary novel, the work is deliberately imbalanced and one-sided. Through a strong first-person narration, we hear Emma's story of exclusion, of rejection, and of self-torture. Hardly anyone else's voice is heard in the narrative so that the reader's attention is focused and directed on Emma's affecting plight. What Hays believes to be the female experience of confinement by the "constitutions of society" becomes literal in the novel as we, too experience narrative entrapment.

Another important achievement of the novel is that Hays' heroine, Emma Courtney, like Mary Wollstonecraft's Maria in The Wrongs of Hays women sexdares to assert female sexuality and desire. The notion that women had or could express sexual feelings was one that eighteenth-century moralists and authors of conduct books tried hard to deny or ignore.

Hays' Emma pronounces: "I feel that I am neither a philosopher, nor a heroine--but a woman, to whom education has given a sexual character.

Cite this item

After the publication of her first novel, Hays contributed short articles on topics ranging from women's education to gender differentiation to political philosophy and novel writing to the Monthly Magazine. Many of these letters were ed Hays women sex. One such letter, published in June throws some light on Hays's ideas of the importance of biography: "were every great man to become his own biographer, and to examine and state impartially, to the best of his recollection, the incidents of his life, the course of his studies, the causes by which he was led to them, the reflections and habits to which they gave birth, the rise, the change, the progress of his opinions, with the consequences produced by them on his affections and conduct, great light might be thrown on the most interesting of all studies, that of moral causes and the human mind.

The Appeal stresses the necessity of reforming the system of education for women and refutes the claim that women are naturally inferior to men. Its style is more spirited and direct rather than anecdotal and illustrative as Letters and Essays was.

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Like her earlier works, Hays attempts to point out that women are socially and culturally constructed, rather than inherently weak and lacking in abilities:. Katharine Rogers suggests that compared to Wollstonecraft's Rights of WomanHays' Appeal is less theoretical, and more pragmatic:.

The ability to particularize and render concrete her feminist assertions is what makes her second novel, The Victim of Prejudice so powerful an indictment of patriarchy. Similar to her first novel, Victim is concerned with female economic and social dependence, sexuality, and subjectivity.

But Hays adds another important dimension to this novel which is the critique of social hierarchy based on class. Written at the end of the revolutionary decade, Victim of Prejudice exploits the politicized climate and demonstrates the uneasy tensions and potentially explosive situations between those with power and those Hays women sex, between male and female, between oppressor and victim. The heroine of the novel, Mary, despite her determination not to fall prey to seduction like her mother, ends up with an equally tragic fate.

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The younger Mary's worst nightmares become real in the novel, giving the work an dreamlike, Gothic quality. This mother-daughter link and the subsequent literal re-enactment of the first Mary's written memoirs create much of the force and the sense of foreboding in the novel.

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Mary's life follows that of her mother's, as she is systematically seduced, abandoned, and cast out of society. Through a replication of the mother's life in the daughter's, Hays shows how challenging the patriarchal system can become a form of female punishment in contemporary eighteenth-century culture.

The attempts of both the first and the second generation Mary to rebel, oppose, and curtail masculine will and desire only create further constraints in their lives. Yearning for more space and freedom, they become physically and spiritually more constricted and circumscribed. After Mary Wollstonecraft's death inand Godwin's publication of her Memoirs of the Author of a Vindication of the Rights of Woman which gave an of her suicide attempts, her illegitimate daughter, and her love affairs, there was an increasing wave of anti-feminist sentiment in England.

At the Hays women sex time, the atrocities of Robespierre and the Reign of Terror in France in the middle of the decade made the supporters of the revolution extremely unpopular. Hays was also caricatured in a couple of novels published at this time. I do not endure it!

With the turn of the century and possibly, as a result of this anti-feminist backlash, Hays' radicalism and her criticism of society seemed to have mellowed. As the title indicates, it was an ambitious project which took nearly three years to complete.

The work in six volumes consists of the lives of around women, about one-third of whom were Englishwomen. In her Preface Hays implies that the work included "every woman who, either by her virtues, her talents, or the peculiarities of her fortune, has rendered herself illustrious or distinguished.

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For their improvement, and to their entertainment, my labours have been devoted I have at heart the happiness of my sex, and their advancement in the grand scale of rational and social existence. She acknowledges that there is "little new" in the work, however, the aim is to "collect and concentrate in one interesting point of view, those engaging pictures, instructive narrations, and striking circumstances that may answer a better purpose than the gratification of a vain curiosity.

One prominent woman whose life does not appear is Mary Wollstonecraft. Hays had written two obituaries for her which were published in the September issue of The Monthly Magazine and in the Annual Necrology During the second half of her life Hays continued to write novels, but the works were more didactic and conservative than her earlier productions.

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Hays edited out much of what she termed "fanaticism and extravagance" from the original, and in the Advertisement, she Hays women sex that her interest in the work lies in its "exhibiting a history of the practical education and culture of the heart. Her faithful correspondents during this period were Henry Crabb Robinson and Eliza Fenwick, both who remained devoted to Hays through her later years.

In Eliza Fenwick's letters, Hays emerges as a faithful and generous friend who willingly helps her through various domestic and financial crises. Hays' last two novels show the influence of evangelical movement, especially the teachings and works of Hannah More and Elizabeth Hamilton Both novels, The Brothers; or Consequences and Family Annals; or the Sistersare didactic works, deed in their simplicity to teach the lower classes the values of economy, frugality, and self-discipline.

Both novels contain a pair of contrasting characters, brothers in the former and sisters in latter work. In the Preface of Family AnnalsHays gave credit to Maria Edgeworth who inspired her with literature which happily blended "amusement and instruction.

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Hays' final publication, Memoirs of Queens, Illustrious and Celebrated was written when she was already in her sixties. In the Preface Hays speaks of herself "declining in physical strength and mental activity," and of compiling the memoirs of queens only at the "request of the publishers. Hays insists upon the assertions she made earlier about the capabilities of women:.

She believes that "the powers and capacity for woman for rational and moral advancement are Though Hays lived for more than twenty years after the publication of Memoirs of Queensit was her last work.

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