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 ...
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.
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Publishers Weekly, 2000-06-26 Mary Wollstonecraft may be called "the mother of feminism," but motherhood in all its various aspects represented little but trouble to her. All her life, according to Todd (Aphra Behn), she resented her own mother because she had breast-fed only her brother, leaving Mary to the wet nurse, and because she detested the model of long-suffering patience in the face of paternal tyranny that was her mother's accommodation to marriage. Later, Mary would intervene energetically following the birth of her sister's child, encouraging Eliza to run away from husband and baby to pursue an independent female existence, although Eliza proved to be woefully inadequate at it. Mary's own first-born was the result of a passionate and illicit affair with an American, Gilbert Imlay, who dumped her when the baby was less than a year old. Finally, and tragically, Mary herself died at 38, after giving birth to a second daughter, another Mary, who would grow up to write that classic of grotesque creation, Frankenstein. Despite, or perhaps because of, the burden of her gender, and despite her poverty, frequent depressions and occasional suicidal moments, Wollstonecraft's achievement was astounding: several novels; many essays, reviews and books of advice; and, notably, The Vindication of the Rights of Women, a fundamental feminist document. By Todd's account, Wollstonecraft could be prickly, sometimes needy, often arrogant and wrong-headed. Todd brings her back to life in all her splendid contradictions, without condescension, idealization or, happily, without recourse to intrusive psychologizing. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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