London SE1 website team

Mary Wollstonecraft blue plaque unveiled

Author Claire Tomalin has unveiled a blue plaque in honour of the early feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft.

Claire Tomalin

The Southwark Council plaque has been placed on number 45 Dolben Street which faces down the new Gambia Street Garden.

Claire Tomalin

Claire Tomalin said that Mary, having lost her job as a governess in Ireland, came to Southwark in 1788 to be near publishers across river. Dolben Street was in an up and coming new area thanks to the opening of Blackfriars Bridge.

Claire Tomalin

Tomalin also told the crowd of residents present that Mary, whilst in Dolben Street, wrote Original Stories which was illustrated by William Blake.

She left in 1791 just before the publication of her most famous work The Vindication of the Rights of Women. Before pulling the curtains aside, Tomalin reminded the audience that Mary's daughter Mary married Percy Bysshe Shelley and wrote Frankenstein.

Number 45 is now a 20th-century building but Thompson House next door would have been known to Mary Wollstonecraft.

Claire Tomalin

Afterwards Tomalin crossed the road to open Gambia Street Garden by cutting a red ribbon held by children. The Rochester Estate Tenants & Residents Association presented her with a bouquet.

Claire Tomalin

• Claire Tomalin is Mary Wollstonecraft's biographer. The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft (Penguin 9.99) won the Whitbread First book Prize. Last year she won the Whitbread Book Award for her biography of Samuel Pepys.
• Mary Wollstonecraft's son-in-law, poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, lived in nearby Nelson Square where there is a plaque marking the site.
• Saturday's event was supported by Land Securities and the Blackfriars Wine Bar

The SE1 website is supported by people like you

Please join our membership scheme or sponsor an hour of local reporting so we can survive

You can also make a small payment to say 'thank you' for this article with Tibit:

Keep up with SE1 news

We have three email newsletters for you to choose from: