You’ve no doubt heard of Mary Shelley and her now infamous book Frankenstein. What you may not know is that her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft was possibly the most influential woman of her day in regards to the female voice. Wollstonecraft was the writer of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and intentionally sought her independence from the establishments of marriage and the dominance of man. In fact, according to the new book Romantic Outlaws she and Mary Shelly’s father married only to ensure their daughter would have an easier time in society than either of them. Sadly, Wollstonecraft died only two weeks after her daughter’s birth.
Charlotte Gordon’s dual biography is a beautiful tribute to both woman, displaying mother and daughter side-by-side and always with respect. Even as she covers the more difficult choices and questionable options that both Mary’s faced, Gordon writes in a way that is accessible and a joy to read. While this is not designed to be a book for a day at the beach, Gordon’s writing style keeps the material fresh and never seems to fall into the trap of the dry academic historical works.
Romantic Outlaws is a great introduction for those readers who may know little to nothing about Wollstonecraft and a great discussion of the life of her slightly better known daughter.
Romantic Outlaws by Charlotte Gordon is available April 28, 2015 from Random House Books.