Betwixt and Between
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199 pages

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A critical investigation of the biographical corpus on Mary Wollstonecraft.

When biographers write about a person’s life, they prioritize what is important to themselves: What interests them, what resonates with them, what helps them, what teaches them, what makes sense to them, and, most significantly, what advances their own political agendas. Their research is filtered through these lenses. Even if their biographical goal is to learn and present enough about their writers to better analyze a certain canon, literary critics usually construct life stories through their own theoretical positions. Certainly, readers should be aware that biographies bend according to their authors’ psychological makeup, cultural encoding, historical agency, and political penchants. Furthermore, biographies often reflect the age in which they are written, more so than the age in which their subject lived. This is not always a negative outcome, but it always imbues the portrait of the “biographee” with its own qualities so that the facsimile is never unadulterated. [NP] Betwixt and Between is an investigation of the biographical corpus of Mary Wollstonecraft, starting with Godwin’s Memoirs (1798) and ending with Charlotte Gordon’s Romantic Outlaws (2015). It identifies the biases, contradictions, errors, ambiguities, and gaps that have run rampant, many of them incomprehensively left unchecked and perpetuated from publication to publication. The myriad, often contradictory renditions of her life and thoughts have given us such a distorted view of Wollstonecraft that she has evolved into varying degrees of heroine and villain, an everywoman for every cause.



Publié par
Date de parution 15 juin 2017
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781783086863
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0076€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


Betwixt and Between
By the same author

The Essential Wollstonecraft
Becoming Mary Wollstonecraft
Biographical Misrepresentations of British Women Writers: A Hall of Mirrors and the Long Nineteenth Century
The Life and Works of Augusta Jane Evans Wilson, 1835–1909
The Widow and Wedlock Novels of Frances Trollope
The Social Problem Novels of Frances Trollope
The Emperor’s Old Groove: Decolonizing Disney’s Magic Kingdom
Silent Voices: Forgotten Novels by Victorian Women Writers
Frances Trollope and the Novel of Social Change
Dissenting Women in Dickens ’s Novels
Betwixt and Between: The Biographies of Mary Wollstonecraft
Brenda Ayres
Anthem Press
An imprint of Wimbledon Publishing Company
This edition first published in UK and USA 2017
75–76 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8HA, UK
or PO Box 9779, London SW19 7ZG, UK
244 Madison Ave #116, New York, NY 10016, USA
© Brenda Ayres 2017
The author asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above,
no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or introduced into
a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means
(electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise),
without the prior written permission of both the copyright
owner and the above publisher of this book.

British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Ayres, Brenda, 1953- author.
Title: Betwixt and between : the biographies of Mary Wollstonecraft / by Brenda Ayres.
Description: New York : Anthem Press, 2017. | Includes bibliographical references and index.
Identifiers: LCCN 2017005633 | ISBN 9781783086849 (hardback)
Subjects: LCSH: Wollstonecraft, Mary, 1759–1797. | Authors, English–18th century–Biography. | Authors, English–Biography–History and criticism. | Biography as a literary form. | Biographers–Great Britain. | Women and literature–England–History–18th century. | Feminism and literature–England–History–18th century. | BISAC: LITERARY CRITICISM / Feminist. | LITERARY CRITICISM / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh. | BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Literary.
Classification: LCC PR5841.W8 Z57 2017 | DDC 828/.609 [B]–dc23
LC record available at

ISBN-13: 978-1-78308-684-9 (Hbk)
ISBN-10: 1-78308-684-X (Hbk)

This title is also available as an e-book.
Dedicated to
Mary Ellen Hylton


Chronology of Wollstonecraft’s Life

Introduction: The Betwixt and Between Life of Mary Wollstonecraft

1 William Godwin’s Memoirs of the Author of “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman” (1798): A Political Philosopher’s Autobiography

2 Mary Hays’s “Memoirs of Mary Wollstonecraft” (1800 ) : The Second of a New Genus

3 C. Kegan Paul’s Mary Wollstonecraft: Letters to Imlay, with Prefatory Memoir by C. K. Paul (1879): The Victorian Gentleman

4 Elizabeth Robins Pennell’s Mary Wollstonecraft (1884 ) : A Victorian Feminist

5 Ralph M. Wardle’s Mary Wollstonecraft: A Critical Biography (1951): Rosie-the-Riveter Wollstonecraft

6 Eleanor Flexner’s Mary Wollstonecraft (1972): The Very Insensible Wollstonecraft

7 Claire Tomalin’s The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft (1974): Wollstonecraft with Sparkle

8 Emily Sunstein’s A Different Face: The Life of Mary Wollstonecraft (1975): Not-so-liberated Woman

9 Margaret Tims’s Mary Wollstonecraft: A Social Pioneer (1976): Wollstonecraft’s Life: The Stuff of Novels

10 Gary Kelly’s Revolutionary Feminism: The Mind and Career of Mary Wollstonecraft (1992) : A Literary Revolutionary

11 Janet M. Todd’s Mary Wollstonecraft: A Revolutionary Life (2000): The “Impudent and Imprudent” Wollstonecraft

12 Miriam Brody’s Mary Wollstonecraft: Mother of Women’s Rights (2000): A Befitting Betwixt and Between Biography

13 Diane Jacobs’s Her Own Woman: The Life of Mary Wollstonecraft (2001): Never Just Her Own Woman

14 Caroline Franklin’s Mary Wollstonecraft: A Literary Life (2004): “The Education of an Educator”

15 Lyndall Gordon’s Vindication: A Life of Mary Wollstonecraft (2005): Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

16 Julie A. Carlson’s England’s First Family: Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin, Mary Shelley (2007): “Con/fusions of Fact and Fiction”

17 Andrew Cayton’s Love in the Time of Revolution: Transatlantic Literary Radicalism and Historical Change, 1793–1818 (2013): “A Subject of George III”

18 Charlotte Gordon’s Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter (2015): Like Mother, Like Daughter
I would like to thank Columbia University Press and Penguin, UK, who have graciously given permission to reproduce a great volume of quotes from Wollstonecraft’s letters in The Collected Letters of Mary Wollstonecraft (2003), edited by Janet Todd , Columbia University Press. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.
I acknowledge a great debt to the biographers of Mary Wollstonecraft, in particular to those under study in this volume: William Godwin , Mary Hays , C. Kegan Paul , Elizabeth Robins Pennell , Ralph M. Wardle , Eleanor Flexner , Claire Tomalin , Emily Sunstein , Margaret Tims , Gary Kelly , Janet M. Todd , Miriam Brody , Diane Jacobs , Caroline Franklin , Lyndall Gordon , Julie A. Carlson , Andrew Cayton and Charlotte Gordon . Although chapters were not devoted to them, these biographers, too, deserve gratitude for their biographical work on Wollstonecraft: Florence Boos , Jean Detre , Clark Durant, Anne Elwood , Moira Ferguson, Henry Rosher James, Camilla Jebb, Madeline Linford, Jane Moore, Edna Nixon , George Preedy, William St. Clair, Barbara Taylor , George Robert Stirling Taylor , George Edward Woodberry and Virginia Woolf .
Additional thanks go to those scholars who have enriched Wollstonecraft scholarship with their critical treatment and insights: Sarah Apetrei , Sandrine Bergès, Pamela Clemit , Maria J. Falco, Michelle Faubert , Alice Green Fredman , Harriet Guest, Richard Holmes , Jane Hudson, Vivien Jones, Claudia Johnson , Harriet Jump , Cora Kaplan , Susan Laird , Jennifer Lorch, Anne Mellor, Ellen Moers , Mitzi Myers , Elizabeth Nitchie , Mary Poovey , Emma Rauschenbusch-Clough , Virginia Sapiro , Gina Luria Walker, Jan Wellington and Susan Khin Zaw .
Finally, I would like to thank several honors students and Sigma Tau Delta members at Liberty University who helped with the proofing of this manuscript: Erin Peters, Evelyn Jane Hylton, Wesley Pena and Hannah Underhill.
Most of all, I cannot pay enough homage to Mary Wollstonecraft, who courageously and sometimes serendipitously paddled hard against the current just to prove that a woman could do so.
Brenda Ayres
Liberty University
Lynchburg, Virginia
ABBREVIATIONS MW Mary Wollstonecraft Thoughts Thoughts on the Education of Daughters (1787) Mary Mary: A Fiction (1788) Original Stories Original Stories from Real Life (1796) Female Reader The Female Reader (1789) Rights of Men ROM (citations) The Vindications: The Rights of Men and the Rights of Woman , edited by David L. Macdonald and Kathleen Scherf (1997) Rights of Woman ROW (citations) A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) French Revolution An Historical and Moral View of the Origin and Progress of the French Revolution (1794) Letters from Sweden Sweden (citations) Letters Written in Sweden , Norway, and Denmark (1796) Maria Maria; or The Wrongs of Woman (1798) Memoirs William Godwin, Memoirs of Mary Wollstonecraft , edited by Pamela Clemit and Gina Luria Walker (2001) Paul , L Mary Wollstonecraft: Letters of Imlay , edited by Charles Kegan Paul (1879) Todd , CL The Collected Letters of Mary Wollstonecraft , edited by Janet Todd (2003) Wardle , CL The Collected Letters of Mary Wollstonecraft , edited by Ralph Wardle (1979)
CHRONOLOGY OF WOLLSTONECRAFT’S LIFE 1688 Edward Wollstonecraft born. Married Jane (d. 1732) and they had a daughter, Elizabeth Ann (1716–1746, m. Isaac Rutson), and a son, Edward John (MW’s father). The elder Edward was a wealthy master weaver in Spitalfields who, when he died in 1765, divided his property in thirds to be given equally to his daughter, his son and his son’s eldest son. There was another son, Charles, who was married to Mary, but he died prior to 1765 and was not listed in the will. 1737 Edward John Wollstonecraft born. 1756 Edward John married Elizabeth Dickson, the daughter of a wealthy wine merchant in Ballyshannon in County Donegal . She died 1803 of dropsy . 1758 Edward (Ned) Bland born. Became a lawyer. Married Elizabeth Munday 1778 and had two children, Edward and Elizabeth, who immigrated to Australia. Ned died 1807. 1759 April 27, Mary Wollstonecraft born in Spitalfields of London , the second of seven children. Baptized at St. Botolph without Bishopsgate on May 20. 1761 Henry Woodstock born. Apprenticed to an apothecary-surgeon in

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