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Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft

Lyndall Gordon’s challenging biography evaluates Mary’s genius: her advanced ideas of education, her understanding of women’s nature - yet to be defined - the teacher, the writer, the traveller, the lover, the mother, the politician.


Gordon assesses the extraordinary presence of this unconventional woman who captivated both men and women.   Her relationship with - her husband - Godwin and – her lover - Imlay is reassessed offering new information and, her deep friendships with Fanny Blood and Ruth Barlow present an alternative perspective to the feminist ideology surrounding Wollstonecraft.


This biography covers her period as a governess to the aristocracy in Ireland; as self-supporting writer in London; as on-the-scene observer of the French Revolution; and as a daring traveller to Scandinavia. Following her lone journey through Scandinavia Gordon reveals the discovery of an unpublished letter, written by Wollstonecraft, which sheds new light on the missing Bourbon silver and offers a solution to an unsolved crime.


Reminiscent of a detective story, this timely biography is the first to demonstrate the full extent of Mary Wollstonecraft’s genius and dispels many of the myths surrounding this ‘wild’ woman. Though Wollstonecraft died young, her indomitable spirit prevailed in her daughters and heirs, Mary Shelley, Fanny Imlay, Claire Clairmont and Margaret Cashell.

About the Author

Lyndall Gordon

Lyndall Gordon is the highly respected biographer of Eliot’s Early Years; Charlotte Bronte: A Passionate Life; Virginia Woolf: A Writer's Life; Shared Lives; A Private Life of Henry James: Two Women and His Art.  Born in Cape Town, South Africa, Lyndall Gordon has won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Biography and the Cheltenham Festival Prize. Gordon is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a Senior Research Fellow at St Hilda’s College, Oxford. Lyndall Gordon is based in Oxford.