- Memoirs of Emma Courtney has translation author
- Memoirs of Mary Wollstonecraft has translation author
- The victim of prejudice has translation author
- Anna Letitia Barbauld poet teacher writer
- George Dyer writer
- William Godwin journalist novelist philosopher writer
- Joseph Johnson publisher
- Richard Phillips bookseller entrepreneur publisher teacher writer
- Joseph Priestley philosopher scientist
- George Robinson bookseller publisher
- Mary Wollstonecraft novelist philosopher translator traveller writer
Mary Hays was born into a middle-class Dissenting family. She never married and enjoyed a varied circle of male and female friends.
In her writings, she was a staunch advocate for women's equality within the "dissident republic of letters", and was derisively included amongst those "gallic philsophesses", Charlotte Smith, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Helen Maria Williams and Mary Wollstonecraft.
Her most radical work was her Appeal to the Men of Great Britain in behalf of Women (published anonymously in 1798), in which she argued that there were no scriptural or rational arguments to justify the continued subjection of women. While it was written around the same time as Wollstonecraft's more celebrated 'Vindication of the Rights of Woman' (1792), it was not published until six years later. Echoing many of Wollstonecraft's views on the position of women in society, she advised women to throw off their shackles by educating themselves rationally in order to realize their potential as the intellectual equals of men. Hays consistently argued against the disadvantages built into female education and especially against the damaging effects of "sexual distinctions", as she wrote in a letter to William Godwin on 21 November 1795.
She contributed articles for the Monthly Magazine during 1796-97 and authored the pioneering, six-volume collection, Female Biography; or Memoirs of Illustrious Women, of all Ages and Countries (1803). Her publisher, Richard Phillips, was also a Dissenter, and specialized in encyclopedias and educational works. In her introduction, Hays wrote that the compilation of factual information was a way of cleansing "knowledge-ordering systems of superstition and prejudice".