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7 - Wollstonecraft and Godwin: dialogues

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 July 2011

Pamela Clemit
Affiliation:
University of Durham
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Summary

According to William Godwin's Memoirs of the Author of a Vindication of the Rights of Woman, he and Mary Wollstonecraft did not particularly like each other when they met for the first time at the publisher Joseph Johnson's on 13 November 1791. After dinner, Godwin recalled, ‘Mary and myself parted, mutually displeased with each other ’ (WG Novels, vol. i, p. 112). However, a subsequent meeting at the home of the novelist Mary Hays on 8 January 1796 was more successful. By April they were in social contact, by August they were lovers, and on 29 March 1797 they married. When their relationship began, both Wollstonecraft and Godwin were already accomplished authors. Godwin had published his influential book of political philosophy, An Enquiry concerning Political Justice (1793), and his novel Things As They Are; or, The Adventures of Caleb Williams (1794). Wollstonecraft had published her first novel, Mary, A Fiction (1788), and her groundbreaking texts of political and social theory, Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790) and Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792). Both authors were well ensconced in the radical circles of the 1790s, supporting the French Revolution (until the increasing violence persuaded them otherwise) and engaging in reform efforts at home in Great Britain.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2011

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