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The Unitarian chapel where Mary Wollstonecraft worshipped sits on Newington Green in north London, just on the edge of Jeremy Corbyn's Islington constituency. In the 1780s, the church was home to a group of radical thinkers, including Wollstonecraft who, aged just 25, set up a school for girls close by. It didn't last very long, but the Labour leader says that idealism is just one of the reasons that he chose her as his political hero.

Born in London in 1759, Wollstonecraft is considered by many to be the mother of modern feminism. She was a radical thinker, novelist and writer whose affairs and ideas scandalised polite society.

Mr Corbyn said: "She was a kind of historically suppressed figure. She had an approach which, these days, you'd describe as sexual freedom, or 'free love' and the social mores of that era couldn't cope with that for women."

Written when she was 33, her most famous work A Vindication of the Rights of Women imagined a social order where women were the equals of their husbands. While some might be surprised that Mr Corbyn did not point to a more obvious socialist thinker, he said Wollstonecraft's example was something to aspire to.

"The process she went through in her life shows that if you think hard enough, you can actually change a lot of things. She didn't know it, but she was fundamental to changing attitudes on the relationship between men and women. She didn't want women to be superior to men, she wanted women to have control of their own lives."