Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley: Writing Lives

Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley: Writing Lives

Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley: Writing Lives

Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley: Writing Lives

Synopsis

Pioneers in life writing, Mary Wollstonecraft, author of A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN (1792), and Mary Shelley, author of FRANKENSTEIN (1818), are now widely regarded as two of the leading writers of the Romantic period. They are both responsible for opening up new possibilities for women in genres traditionally dominated by men. This volume brings together essays on Wollstonecrafts and Shelleys life writing by some of the most prominent scholars in Canada, Australia, and the United States. It also includes a full-length play by award-winning Canadian playwright Rose Scollard. Essayists include Judith Barbour, Betty T Bennett, Anne K Mellor, Charles E Robinson, Eleanor Ty, and Lisa Vargo. Among the works discussed are: Wollstonecrafts Vindication, Letters from Norway, and Maria; or, The Wrongs of Woman; William Godwins Memoirs of Wollstonecraft; and Shelleys Frankenstein, The Last Man, Ladore, and Rambles in Germany and Italy.

Excerpt

“It is not singular that, as the daughter of two persons of distinguished literary celebrity, I should very early in life have thought of writing” (FMP 176): so Mary Shelley put it, with characteristic modesty. Anne K. Mellor, more boldly, has described Shelley as “the fruit of the most radical literary marriage of eighteenth-century England” (Mary Shelley 1). Her parents were William Godwin, philosopher and novelist, and Mary Wollstonecraft, educator, novelist, critic, philosopher, and travel writer. Yet Shelley's illustrious birth in 1797 was almost immediately overshadowed by a double disaster: Wollstonecraft's death, ten days after the delivery; and the hostile public reaction to Godwin's Memoirs of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, published the following year. Moreover, Shelley came to maturity in a historical moment of post-revolutionary despair very different from the moment of revolutionary optimism that had inspired her parents' most famous works.

The events of Wollstonecraft's and Shelley's lives are recorded in such modern studies as Claire Tomalin's The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft (1974), William St Clair's The Godwins and the . . .

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