Backlash over nude memorial to British feminist icon

London (AFP) –


A monument to British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft was unveiled in London on Tuesday, prompting praise from fans but criticism from others who slammed the nude design.

Wollstonecraft was an early feminist thinker whose 1792 book "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman" called for women to have equal rights.

Her daughter, Mary Shelley, wrote "Frankenstein."

After Wollstonecraft's death at 38 in 1797, her renown as a thinker suffered from revelations about her unconventional personal life but her major role is now being reacknowledged.

The silvery sculpture topped by a small female nude figure, created by the artist Maggi Hambling, was put up in north London after a campaign by enthusiasts.

A count by the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association found just 80 public statues of named women in Britain in 2018 compared with 422 men, the BBC reported.

The work features one of Wollstonecraft's famous quotes on the base: "I do not wish (women) to have power over men; but over themselves."

Internet pioneer Martha Lane Fox tweeted that statue was "fantastic" for commemorating the "brave thinker."

Yet the design won a mixed reception, with the Daily Telegraph newspaper describing it as a "flimsy, Barbie-like embarrassment".

Some questioned whether a nude figure would have been used for a monument to a man of equivalent stature.

"I think it would have been nice to commemorate Mary Wollstencraft (sic) with her clothes on," tweeted the novelist JoJo Moyes.

But the artist behind the design, Hambling, told the Evening Standard daily that she did not want to depict the writer in period clothing, since "she's everywoman and clothes would have restricted her".