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Her Own Woman: The Life of Mary Wollstonecraft

Jacobs, Diane

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ISBN 10: 068481093X / ISBN 13: 9780684810935
Verlag: Simon & Schuster, 2001
Gebraucht Zustand: Fine Hardcover
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068481093X Near fine in near fine little nicked dust jacket. First edition. Quality, Value, Experience. Media Shipped in New Boxes. Buchnummer des Verkäufers BING8048435

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Bibliografische Details

Titel: Her Own Woman: The Life of Mary ...

Verlag: Simon & Schuster

Erscheinungsdatum: 2001

Einband: Hardcover


Zustand des Schutzumschlags: Dust Jacket Included

Auflage: 1st Edition

Über diesen Titel


Pioneering eighteenth-century feminist Mary Wollstonecraft lived a life as radical as her vision of a fairer world. She overcame great disadvantages -- poverty (her abusive, sybaritic father squandered the family fortune), a frivolous education, and the stigma of being unmarried in a man's world. Her life changed when Thomas Paine's publisher, Joseph Johnson, determined to make her a writer. Wollstonecraft's great feminist document, "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, " which brought her fame throughout Europe, insisted that women reap all the new liberties men were celebrating since the fall of the Bastille in France. Wollstonecraft lived as fully as a man would, socializing with the great painters, poets, and revolutionaries of her era. She traveled to Paris during the French Revolution; fell in love with Gilbert Imlay, a fickle American; and, unmarried, openly bore their daughter, Fanny. Wollstonecraft at last found domestic peace with the philosopher William Godwin but died giving birth to their daughter, Mary, who married Percy Bysshe Shelley, wrote the classic "Frankenstein, " and carried on her mother's bold ideas. Wollstonecraft's first child, Fanny, suffered a more tragic fate. This definitive biography of Mary Wollstonecraft gives a balanced, thorough, freshly sympathetic view. Diane Jacobs also continues Wollstonecraft's story by concluding with those of her daughters. "Her Own Woman" is distinguished by the author's use of new first sources, among which are Joseph Johnson's letters, discovered by an heir in the late 1990s, and rare letters referring to Wollstonecraft's lover Gilbert Imlay. Jacobs has written an absorbing narrative that is essential tounderstanding Mary Wollstonecraft's life and the importance it has had on women throughout history.


Diane Jacobs's exemplary popular biography makes pioneering 18th-century feminist Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-97) a vivid character for contemporary readers. Much more sympathetic than Janet Todd was in her book Mary Wollstonecraft: A Revolutionary Life, Jacobs acknowledges Wollstonecraft's extravagantly emotional nature and wearying demands on loved ones, yet roots her shortcomings in frustration provoked by a society blatantly unjust toward women. Mary had to educate herself while her brothers attended the local grammar school; she cared for her dying mother while her farther seduced a younger woman; her sister could escape a bad marriage only by leaving behind a baby. The intelligent, unconventional Wollstonecraft's choice of occupations was limited to governess, paid companion, or schoolteacher, all of which she tried and detested.

No wonder she felt most at home with London radicals fired by the promise of the French Revolution, including publisher Joseph Johnson, who encouraged her early writing and in 1792 issued her most famous work, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Jacobs does a nice job of conveying the scandalous impact of Wollstonecraft's then unprecedented insistence on economic and intellectual equality for women, and she evokes with similar immediacy the fervent atmosphere of revolutionary France, where Wollstonecraft fell in love with American Gilbert Imlay and bore his child. Imlay's desertion prompted two suicide attempts, but the perennially depressive Wollstonecraft found solace in England with philosopher William Godwin before dying of childbed fever after giving birth to a daughter, also named Mary, who would later run off with married poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. In a narrative notable for its lively prose, dramatic punch, and positive assessment of the tempestuous Wollstonecraft, it's characteristic that Jacobs closes, not with her tragic death, but 19 years later as Mary Shelley began to write Frankenstein and "the revolution continued." --Wendy Smith

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