Tag Archives: Wollstonecraft

What have the 1790s and robotics in common? – Rachel Hewitt and Alan Winfield

12 May

At first glance I didn’t think a talk about the 1790s and robotics (on the same bill at the Swindon Festival of Literature) would have much in common.

But I was wrong.

For one thing, quack doctor James Graham invented an electrical sex bed in the late 18th century, and, people being people, one of the robotics questions from the audience was, when will we get a sex robot? (Alan is actually chairing a panel discussion in Hay on Wye  about this very thing. It’s sold out.) Continue reading

An overlooked hero – Wollstonecraft in Swindon Festival of Literature

18 May

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As with many notable historic women, Mary Wollstonecraft is an overlooked hero.

Sandrine Berges, a French professor flown from her home in Turkey for the Swindon Festival of Literature, has a mission to raise Wollstonecraft’s profile.

Wollstonecraft was a British writer and philosopher who wrote what is probably the first feminist tract.

“Wollstonecraft would have been shocked at how slowly things have moved for women today,” said Sandrine, arguing that Wollstonecraft’s values have still not been fully realised.

The eighteenth century writer and philosopher lived a pretty racy life for a women in that age. She did not deliberately set out to provoke society – she came from a respectable family abeit with issues – she simply wanted the freedom to live the life she wanted to lead. She had two lovers, fell pregnant, fell in love with another man and fell pregnant again. She married the father of her second child but lived apart from him so they could both maintain their independence. They shared childcare of the first child. Sadly for her and for early feminism, she died days after the birth of her second child. Continue reading