Mary Wollstonecraft: A Revolutionary Life
Mary Wollstonecraft was born in 1759. She was largely self-educated and worked as a school teacher, governess and editor. She made contact with the ... Show synopsis Mary Wollstonecraft was born in 1759. She was largely self-educated and worked as a school teacher, governess and editor. She made contact with the circle of radicals and artists which included Blake, Paine, Fuseli and Godwin. She went to Paris in 1792, met Gilbert Imlay and gave birth to their child. She married Godwin in 1797 but died after the birth of their daughter Mary (later Mary Shelley). The inner life of Mary Wollstonecraft is remarkably displayed in her personal letters, both in those from her early years to her friends and sisters and in those pathetic later ones to her lover Gilbert Imlay. Current biographies, all dating from the 1970s, as the times demanded, show the formation of the feminist and the genesis of the public works, especially of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Each biography used the letters copiously but none dwelt on them or quoted them at length. Indeed Claire Tomalin, whose biography is now the most accessible in Britain, was clearly embarrassed by the pleading approaches to Imlay and played down an episode which was central to Wollstonecraft's life and intellectual development. Janet Todd's biography will connect, for the first time, Mary Wollstonecraft's published works with her letters and discuss the psychological revelations, the desires and fears revealed in them. It will show how printed and private writings together reveal the divided nature of Wollstonecraft and the personal motivations of many of her general political themes. It will capture the emerging character of the woman who never ceased to reveal herself in all her writings.