Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley

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9780091958947: Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley

Romantic Outlaws is the first book to tell the story of the passionate and pioneering lives of Mary Wollstonecraft – English feminist and author of the landmark book, The Vindication of the Rights of Women – and her novelist daughter Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein.

Although mother and daughter, these two brilliant women never knew one another – Wollstonecraft died of an infection in 1797 at the age of thirty-eight, a week after giving birth. Nevertheless their lives were so closely intertwined, their choices, dreams and tragedies so eerily similar, it seems impossible to consider one without the other.

Both women became famous writers; fell in love with brilliant but impossible men; and were single mothers who had children out of wedlock; both lived in exile; fought for their position in society; and thought deeply about how we should live. And both women broke almost every rigid convention there was to break: Wollstonecraft chased pirates in Scandinavia. Shelley faced down bandits in Naples. Wollstonecraft sailed to Paris to witness the Revolution. Shelley eloped in a fishing boat with a married man. Wollstonecraft proclaimed that women’s liberty should matter to everyone.

Not only did Wollstonecraft declare the rights of women, her work ignited Romanticism. She inspired Coleridge, Wordsworth and a whole new generation of writers, including her own daughter, who – with her young lover Percy Shelley – read Wollstonecraft’s work aloud by her graveside. At just nineteen years old and a new mother herself, Mary Shelley composed Frankenstein whilst travelling around Italy with Percy and roguish Lord Byron (who promptly fathered a child by Mary’s stepsister). It is a seminal novel, exploring the limitations of human nature and the power of invention at a time of great religious and scientific upheaval. Moreover, Mary Shelley would become the editor of her husband’s poetry after his early death – a feat of scholarship that did nothing less than establish his literary reputation.

Romantic Outlaws brings together a pair of visionary women who should have shared a life, but who instead shared a powerful literary and feminist legacy. This is inventive, illuminating, involving biography at its best.

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Product Description:

Romantic Outlaws is the first book to tell the story of the pioneering, fascinating and eerily similar lives of Mary Wollstonecraft - English feminist and author of the landmark book, The Vindication of the Rights of Women - and her novelist daughter Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein.

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-97) and her daughter Mary Shelley (1797-1851) never knew each other - Wollstonecraft died of an infection at the age of thirty-eight, a week after giving birth to her daughter. Nevertheless their lives were closely intertwined, their choices, dreams and tragedies so similar, it seems impossible to consider one without the other: both became famous writers; both fell in love with brilliant but impossible authors; both were single mothers and had children out of wedlock; both broke out of the rigid conventions of their era and lived in exile; both played pioneering roles in fighting for the position of women; both thought deeply about how we should live.

Not only did Wollstonecraft declare the rights of women, her work ignited Romanticism, inspiring Coleridge, Wordsworth and a new generation of writers, including her own daughter, who, together with her young lover Percy Shelley, read Wollstonecraft's work aloud by her graveside. At just nineteen years old and a new mother herself, Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein whilst travelling Italy with her lover and roguish Lord Byron (who fathered a child by Mary Shelley's stepsister). One of the defining works in this period of great religious and scientific upheaval, it is a seminal work of English literature. Mary Shelley would also go on to edit her husband's poems after his early death - a feat that did nothing less than establish his literary reputation.

Romantic Outlaws brings together a pair of brave women who should have shared a life, but instead shared a powerful literary and feminist legacy. Taking readers on a vivid journey across Revolutionary France and Victorian England, from the Italian seaports to the highlands of Scotland - and involving a colourful cast of characters - this is inventive, page-turning, involving biography at its best.

Product Description:

'A gripping account of the heartbreaks and triumphs of two of history's most formidable female intellectuals, Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley. Gordon has reunited mother and daughter through biography, beautifully weaving their narratives for the first time.' Amanda Foreman

English feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and author Mary Shelley were mother and daughter, yet these two extraordinary women never knew one another. Nevertheless, their passionate and pioneering lives remained closely intertwined, their choices, dreams and tragedies eerily similar.

Both Marys became famous writers, fell in love with brilliant but impossible men,

and were single mothers out of wedlock; both lived in exile, fought for their position in society and thought deeply about how we should live.

They also broke every rigid convention thrust upon them: Wollstonecraft chased pirates in Scandinavia and sailed to Paris to witness the Revolution. Shelley eloped in a fishing boat with a married man and faced down bandits in Naples. Wollstonecraft proclaimed that women’s liberty should matter to everyone.

Not only did Wollstonecraft pen the landmark book, The Vindication of the Rights of Woman, her work ignited Romanticism, inspiring a whole new generation of writers, including her daughter. At just nineteen years old, Mary travelled around Italy with Percy Shelley and Lord Byron, and there wrote Frankenstein. Having pushed the boundaries of the literary form, she went on to become the editor of her husband’s poetry – a feat of scholarship that established his posthumous reputation.

For the first time, Romantic Outlaws brings together a pair of visionary women who should have shared a life, but who instead share a powerful literary and feminist legacy. This is inventive, illuminating, involving biography at its best.

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