Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley

Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley

Romantic Outlaws is the first book to tell the story of the passionate and pioneering lives of Mary Wollstonecraft – English feminist and author of the landmark book, The Vindication of the Rights of Women – and her novelist daughter Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein.

Although mother and daughter, these two brilliant women never knew one another – Wollstonecraft died of an infection in 1797 at the age of thirty-eight, a week after giving birth. Nevertheless their lives were so closely intertwined, their choices, dreams and tragedies so eerily similar, it seems impossible to consider one without the other.

Both women became famous writers; fell in love with brilliant but impossible men; and were single mothers who had children out of wedlock; both lived in exile; fought for their position in society; and thought deeply about how we should live. And both women broke almost every rigid convention there was to break: Wollstonecraft chased pirates in Scandinavia. Shelley faced down bandits in Naples. Wollstonecraft sailed to Paris to witness the Revolution. Shelley eloped in a fishing boat with a married man. Wollstonecraft proclaimed that women’s liberty should matter to everyone.

Not only did Wollstonecraft declare the rights of women, her work ignited Romanticism. She inspired Coleridge, Wordsworth and a whole new generation of writers, including her own daughter, who – with her young lover Percy Shelley – read Wollstonecraft’s work aloud by her graveside. At just nineteen years old and a new mother herself, Mary Shelley composed Frankenstein whilst travelling around Italy with Percy and roguish Lord Byron (who promptly fathered a child by Mary’s stepsister). It is a seminal novel, exploring the limitations of human nature and the power of invention at a time of great religious and scientific upheaval. Moreover, Mary Shelley would become the editor of her husband’s poetry after his early death – a feat of scholarship that did nothing less than establish his literary reputation.

Romantic Outlaws brings together a pair of visionary women who should have shared a life, but who instead shared a powerful literary and feminist legacy. This is inventive, illuminating, involving biography at its best.

Title:Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9781400068425
Format Type:

    Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley Reviews

  • Hannah Greendale

    Click here to watch a video review of on my BookTube channel, From Beginning to Bookend. An intimate look at the lives of two extraordinary women who unapologetically broke with convention and scan...

  • Jaylia3

    This dual biography of Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley utterly enthralled me. Both were talented, groundbreaking, independent thinking women, they each had drama and difficulties in ...

  • Diane S ?

    3.5 I have thought long and hard what to put in this review. Brilliant mother and daughter, fighters for women's rights, led lives that were frowned upon during their days and penned books that have i...

  • Quirkyreader

    As soon as I started reading this double biography I got sucked in. It chronicles the lives of two amazing Marys. Mary Wollstonecraft the reformer and her daughter Mary Godwin Shelley.MW and MGS both ...

  • Abigail

    This book borders on wrist-breaker status but despite the volume I wish there was more to read. I picked it up as more of a self-education piece and break from fiction, not really thinking about the e...

  • Sherwood Smith

    Eminently readable biography of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley. It's swapped off, each woman every other chapter. I found it best to skip the chapters and read one then the other. Well researche...

  • Louise

    Mary Wollstonecraft (Godwin) died within days of giving birth to Mary Godwin who became Mary Shelley the writer/creator of “Frankenstein”. While death was a physical separation of Wollstonecraft a...

  • Bettie

    BOTWhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b064xjn1Description: Juliet Aubrey and Ellie Kendrick read Charlotte Gordon's extraordinary biography of the pioneering feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, and her novel...

  • Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship

    This is such a fantastic biography that I suspect it will become my gold standard. It’s a dual biography of two well-known female intellectuals (who were also mother and daughter), Mary Wollstonecra...

  • Judith E

    The bra burning feminists of the 1960’s can’t hold a candle to Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter, Mary Shelley, and their revolutionary ideals of the 1800’s. Their feminist philosophy was sha...