Two Marys in Conversation highlighting two remarkable women

Two Marys in Conversation highlighting two remarkable women

On Tuesday 20 June the Foundation, set up in Mary Ann McCracken’s name, hosted a special evening to celebrate her birthday. ‘Two Marys’ in Conversation discussed the life and legacy of Mary Ann McCracken, and reflected on how much of her work was inspired by her close reading of the remarkable philosopher, writer and human rights advocate Mary Wollstonecraft.

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759 – 1797) lived most of her short life in England and was passionate about equality in education, and in society as a whole: “I do not wish [women] to have power over men, but over themselves”. Her published works, calling for men and women to be educated equally, were widely read and circulated, particularly in Belfast. Her travelogue was also well known, drawn from of her experience in  Norway, Denmark and Sweden.

Mary Ann McCracken (1770-1866) was a hero of Belfast- an abolitionist, philanthropist and reformer who was undoubtedly influenced by reading Mary Wollstonecraft’s published books. In her own letters, she described Wollstonecraft’s travelogue Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark as ‘more of a description of her own feelings, which are uncommonly exquisite’.

Sir Ronnie Weatherup, President of the Belfast Charitable Society, who hosted the event, commented, “We were delighted to dedicate an evening to celebrate these two amazing women, discussing Mary Ann and Mary Wollstonecraft’s lives and their works, and on how their influence is still felt today. It was a privilege to be joined on the night by Bee Rowlatt, a founding Trustee of the Wollstonecraft Society”.

Bee Rowlatt is a writer and journalist. Her book In Search of Mary won the Society of Authors’ K Blundell Trust award. Speaking about her contribution to the event, Bee said “I’m very excited to be sharing the incredible stories of these exceptional women, both of whose work is powerfully resonant today. It’s high time more people met Mary Ann McCracken and Mary Wollstonecraft!”

Belfast Charitable Society Clifton House News