A richly detailed, powerful biography of the first major feminist in England, highlighting her intellectual and sexual dilemmas, her glamorous and tumultuous life and loves. The combination of her works with her efforts to live a revolutionary inner and outer life has no equal.
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The founding mother of feminism comes across as vividly as the heroine of a romantic novel in this fascinating biography, which quotes extensively from Wollstonecraft's correspondence to evoke her high-strung personality. Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) gained an early horror of traditional marriage from observing the relationship of her despotic father and submissive mother. There were no accepted outlets for her energy and ambition in 18th-century England; not until she moved to London in 1788 and became "the first of a new genus," a professional woman writer, did Wollstonecraft come into her own as a member of a circle of radical intellectuals. A Vindication of the Rights of Women, published in 1792, made her famous, but she remained needy, self-absorbed, and self-dramatizing. "She could not bring herself to use the rational language of The Rights of Women on herself," writes British scholar Janet Todd. "Her own life was always delivered in the language of sensibility." Todd capably summarizes Wollstonecraft's writings and gives detailed accounts of her most important relationships: her stormy bond with her sisters; an intense teenage friendship with Fanny Blood, who later died in her arms after childbirth; the unhappy love affair with American Gilbert Imlay, father of her first child, whose infidelity prompted her suicide attempt; and an emotionally tumultuous but happy marriage to philosopher William Godwin. Modern feminists reading this unvarnished account may wish Wollstonecraft weren't quite so neurotic, but Todd must be admired for refusing to tidy up her subject's messy personality. --Wendy SmithAbout the Author:
Janet Todd is a research professor at the University of Glasgow.
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Book Description Weidenfeld & Nicolson History, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M184212398X