I won't attempt to summarise all the academic and popular writing on this subject. What strikes me is the passion with which many seem to want Jane Austen to be what I call a Lost Daughter, that is, someone significantly influenced by MW, even if that influence has to be expressed covertly. And, of course, I am not a little envious (in the positive, aspirational sense) of how much attention Jane Austen receives, not only from the academy, but in overwhelming public support. She is widely read for pleasure, and even more widely appreciated in endless cinematographic re-imaginings. Both scholars and enthusiasts come together in venues such as the Jane Austen Society of North America. I could wish for nothing better for Mary Wollstonecraft - academic interest in her works is re-awakening, in fields beyond women's studies, and I have hopes for Mary: the Movie, but as yet there is no Mary Fan Club or Wollstonecraft Society. Give me time....
Wikipedia (which, as I've said before, provides an excellent overview of Wollstonecraft's life, work, and circle) give a good short introduction to the possibilities of a link. Styles and themes of Jane Austen
Since the rise of feminist literary criticism in the 1970s, the question of to what extent Austen was a feminist writer has been at the forefront of Austen criticism. Scholars have identified two major strains of 18th-century feminism: "Tory feminism" and "Enlightenment feminism". Austen has been associated with both.
Tory feminism, which includes such writers as Mary Astell and Dorothy Wordsworth, is a tradition of thought which recognized that "women were treated as an inferior class in a man's world". Writers in this tradition urged women to counter this discrimination through moral and spiritual self-cultivation and charitable service to the family and community. [Marilyn] Butler has argued that Austen belongs to the Tory feminist tradition because of her stylistic and thematic affinity to the writings of Maria Edgeworth Moreover, Austen's "heroines' subordinate role in the family,...their dutifulness, meditativeness, self-abnegation, and self-control" are characteristics shared by the heroines of conservative authors such as Jane West and Mary Brunton.
Enlightenment feminism, which includes such writers as Catherine Macaulay and Mary Wollstonecraft, is a tradition of thought that claims that "women share the same moral nature as men, ought to share the same moral status, and exercise the same responsibility for their conduct". Margaret Kirkham has argued that Austen is part of this tradition because, for one, her "heroines do not adore or worship their husbands, though they respect and love them. They are not, especially in the later novels, allowed to get married at all until the heroes have provided convincing evidence of appreciating their qualities of mind, and of accepting their power of rational judgement, as well as their good hearts." Anne Elliot, the heroine of ''Persuasion'', is an example of such a protagonist. Kirkham argues that Austen knew and admired the works of Mary Wollstonecraft, particularly A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792). Moreover, she and others argue that Austen's novels followed in the tradition of the radical Jacobin novels of the 1790s, which often dealt with feminist issues.
Part of a very loose series on lost daughters and sons: Margaret King (Mrs Mason) , Millicent Garrett Fawcett, C19 American women's rights advocates, Claire Clairmont, Voltairine de Cleyre, William Gladstone, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Amartya Sen