Historical Reprints History Life and Letters of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Life and Letters of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Life and Letters of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Catalog # SKU3551
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Mrs. Julian Marshall
ISBN 10: 0000000000
ISBN 13: 0000000000000
 
$34.95
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Description

The Life and Letters

of
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley


Volumes 1 & 2
Now in One Volume


by
Mrs. Julian Marshall

The following biography was undertaken at the request of Sir Percy and Lady Shelley, and has been compiled from the MS. journals and letters in their possession, which were entrusted to me, without reserve, for this purpose.

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Excerpt:

"So you really have seen Godwin, and had little Mary in your arms! the only offspring of a union that will certainly be matchless in the present generation." So, in 1798, wrote Sir Henry Taylor's mother to her husband, who had travelled from Durham to London for the purpose of making acquaintance with the famous author of Political Justice.

This "little Mary," the daughter of William and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, was destined herself to form a union the memory of which will live even longer than that of her illustrious parents. She is remembered as Mary Shelley, wife of the poet. In any complete account of his life she plays, next to his, the most important part. Young as she was during the few years they passed together, her character and her intellect were strong enough to affect, to modify, in some degree to mould his. That he became what he did is in great measure due to her. This, if nothing more were known of her, would be sufficient to stamp her as a remarkable woman, of rare ability and moral excellence, well deserving of a niche in the almost universal biographical series of the present day.

But, besides this, she would have been eminent among her sex at any time, in any circumstances, and would, it cannot be doubted, have achieved greater personal fame than she actually did but for the fact that she became, at a very early age, the wife of Shelley. Not only has his name overshadowed her, but the circumstances of her association with him were such as to check to a considerable extent her own sources of invention and activity. Had that freedom been her lot in which her mother's destiny shaped itself, her talents must have asserted themselves as not inferior, as in some respects superior, to those of Mary Wollstonecraft. This is the answer to the question, sometimes asked,-as if, in becoming Shelley's wife, she had forfeited all claim to individual consideration,-why any separate Life of her should be written at all. Even as a completion of Shelley's own story, Mary's Life is necessary.

There remains the fact that her husband's biographers have been busy with her name. It is impossible now to pass it over in silence and indifference. She has been variously misunderstood. It has been her lot to be idealised as one who gave up all for love, and to be condemned and anathematised for the very same reason. She has been extolled for perfections she did not possess, and decried for the absence of those she possessed in the highest degree. She has been lauded as a genius, and depreciated as one overrated, whose talent would never have been heard of at all but for the name of Shelley. To her husband she has been esteemed alternately a blessing and the reverse.

As a fact, it is probable that no woman of like endowments and promise ever abdicated her own individuality in favour of another so transcendently greater. To consider Mary altogether apart from Shelley is, indeed, not possible, but the study of the effect, on life and character, of this memorable union is unique of its kind. From Shelley's point of view it has been variously considered; from Mary's, as yet, not at all.

Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin was born on the 30th of August 1797.

Her father, the philosopher and philosophical novelist, William Godwin, began his career as a Dissenting minister in Norfolk, and something of the preacher's character adhered to him all his life. Not the apostolic preacher. No enthusiasm of faith or devotion, no constraining fervour, eliciting the like in others, were his, but a calm, earnest, philosophic spirit, with an irresistible impulse to guide and advise others. This same calm rationalism got the better, in no long time, of his religious creed, which he seems to have abandoned slowly, gradually, and deliberately, without painful struggle. His religion, of the head alone, was easily replaced by other views for which intellectual qualities were all-sufficient. Of a cool, unemotional temperament, safe from any snares of passion or imagination, he became the very type of a town philosopher. Abstractions of the intellect and the philosophy of politics were his world. He had a true townsman's love of the theatre, but external nature for the most part left him unaffected, as it found him. With the most exalted opinion of his own genius and merit, he was nervously susceptible to the criticism of others, yet always ready to combat any judgment unfavourable to himself.

Never weary of argument, he thought that by its means, conducted on lines of reason, all questions might be finally settled, all problems satisfactorily and speedily solved. Hence the fascination he possessed for those in doubt and distress of mind. Cool rather than cold-hearted, he had a certain benignity of nature which, joined to intellectual exaltation, passed as warmth and fervour. His kindness was very great to young men at the "storm and stress" period of their lives. They for their part thought that, as he was delighted to enter into, discuss and analyse their difficulties, he must, himself, have felt all these difficulties and have overcome them; and, whether they followed his proffered advice or not, they never failed to look up to him as an oracle.




420 pages - 8½ x 11 softcover


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