Audiobook: Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin

Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin cover

Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin

1 - Introduction


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"Few women have worked so faithfully for the cause of humanity as Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin [1759-1797], and few have been the objects of such censure...The young were bidden not to read her books, and the more mature warned not to follow her example, the miseries she endured being declared the just retribution of her actions." So begins this short, vivid biography of Mary Wollstonecraft by the American expatriate author, Elizabeth Robins Pennell. We read how Wollstonecraft's father, an unstable, irascible, and often violent alcoholic squandered his fortune and dragged his large family from lodging to lodging. Her mother, a rigid disciplinarian of her children, was his abject slave. A brilliant autodidact, Mary left a position as a governess and moved by herself to London, where she lived by translating and writing. In 1790 she became famous defending the French Revolution against the attacks of Edmund Burke in her "Vindication of the Rights of Man." This was followed in 1792 by her most influential work, "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman." After becoming pregnant out of wedlock, she was deserted by her lover, Gilbert Imlay and attempted suicide. In 1797 she married William Godwin, but died of post-partum septicemia (childbed fever) following the birth of her second daughter, the future Mary Shelley, author of "Frankenstein." - Summary by Pamela Nagami

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