Wollstonecraft was born on 27 April 1759 in Spitalfields, London, United Kingdom. Her mother, Elizabeth Dixon, was Irish, and of good family. Her father, Edward John Wollstonecraft, after dissipating the greater part of his patrimony, tried to earn a living by farming, which only plunged him into deeper difficulties, and he led a wandering, shifty life.
Mary was their second born but first daughter. Her childhood was unhappy as her father was a drank who was unsteady and hot tempered and her mother was too weak and unsympathetic. Her parents loved and doted on her brother but often ignored her.