JEREMY CORBYN has revealed his biggest historical hero: 18th-century feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.
The Labour leader expressed his admiration for Wollstonecraft in an interview with BBC History magazine published today.
An early advocate of women’s rights in the 18th century, she founded a school with her sister in Newington Green, which is now in Mr Corbyn’s north London constituency.
Last March, Mr Corbyn backed the campaign for a statue to the “outstanding writer and women’s rights campaigner” on the green.
He told the magazine that the “opening of a school that aimed to give girls an education every bit as good as that enjoyed by boys — a novel idea at the time” was the first reason he picked her as his historical hero.
“Then there’s the fact that (unlike a lot of people this side of the Channel) she was excited by the radical opportunities the French Revolution could bring,” he said. Having first learned about the writer and philosopher through the women’s rights movement in the 1970s and ’80s, he described her finest hour as the publication of A Vindication of the Rights of Women.
The 1792 text, which advocated equality of the sexes, made her famous and was a blueprint for the future women’s movement.
Mr Corbyn said: “It was Mary who had the vision of women leading lives every bit as full as any man.”
He also said he shared her beliefs in the way she treated people with respect, regardless of their sex, race or religion.
Wollstonecraft died 12 days after the birth of her second daughter, who went on to write the novel Frankenstein as Mary Shelley.