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Short biography
Catharine Macaulay, a major intellectual figure of the Enlightenment, was the first published female English historian and one of the best-known women of her day. Historians today consider her a pioneer for basing her work mainly on primary sources. She was a strong proponent of republicanism and independence for America and France, and of education for women. Mary Wollstonecraft, who was influenced by her Letters on Education (1790), called Catharine Macaulay a "woman of the greatest ability, undoubtedly, that this country has ever produced." She was born Catherine Sawbridge at Olantigh, near Wye in Kent and was educated at home, learning Latin and Greek from an early age. In 1760, she married Dr. George Macaulay, a Scottish physician. After his death in 1766, she travelled to France and the USA; during this visit she was the guest of President George Washington at Mount Vernon; he became a lifelong friend and correspondent. Catharine Macaulay also was a political activist, supporting John Wilkes, responding to the philosopher Thomas Hobbes, and taking exception to Edmund Burke’s work on the French Revolution. In 1788, she married William Graham, a man 26 years her junior.
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