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Prefatory Note

ByJanet Todd, Marilyn Butler, Emma Rees-Mogg

A Vindication of the Rights of Men, in a Letter to the Right Honourable Edmund Burke (London, Joseph Johnson, 1790) was a reply to Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790); it appeared in two editions in November and December 1790. Godwin in Memoirs of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1798)’ch. 6’records that ‘When Mary had arrived at about the middle of her work, she was seized with a temporary fit of torpor and indolence, and began to repent of her undertaking.’’but the casual reaction of Johnson to her reluctance provoked her to complete it. A Vindication was the first of many replies to Burke, including Catharine Macaulay’s Observations on the Reflections of the Right Hon. Edmund Burke on the Revolution in France (1790) and Thomas Paine Rights of Man: being an answer to Mr. Burke’s attack on the French Revolution (1790). The text reprinted here is the second edition; substantive variants from the first are recorded.