The Passions of Mary Wollstonecraft by Wendy Louise Bardsley (Paperback, 2017)
In her excellent new novel, Wendy Louise Bardsley takes the reader on a journey from Yorkshire to London, Wales, and Paris, as she explores the remarkable life of Mary Wollstonecroft. As a young woman, Mary copes with a bullying father, a subjugated mother, sees young friends die in childbirth and from tuberculosis. And whilst her elder brother Ned follows an unfettered path to a career as a lawyer, Mary is deprived of a formal education., All of these experiences combine to shape Mary's ideals for the improvement of the lot of women, a subject she pursues passionately throughout her adult life. Determined to improve her mind, Mary reads, writes and associates with learned men of the day. Through her writing Mary meets publisher Joseph Johnson, who introduces Mary not only to severalfamous writers of the time, but also to artist Henri Fuseli, with whom she becomes infatuated., With the French Revolution raging, Mary travels to Paris to experience the terror pervadingthe French capital. Whilst there, she meets and falls in love with Gilbert Imlay, by whom she has a daughter. But Imlay proves feckless, and the relationship, which began so passionately, ends in tears., Back in London, Mary rejoins Joseph Johnson's cultural circle which includes William Godwin, who has admired her for a long-time. Mary and Godwin marry in March 1797 and in August 1797, their daughter, also called Mary and who will grow up to be the future Mary Shelley, is born. But complications follow the birth and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin dies on 10 September 1797, aged just 38, leaving her seminal work, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, as a fitting epitaph to a remarkable story.
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