Wollstonecraft, Mary

WRITER, EDUCATIONALIST (ENGLAND)
BORN 27 Apr 1759, London - DIED 10 Sep 1797, London
GRAVE LOCATION Bournemouth, Dorset: St. Peter's Churchyard

In het youth Mary Wollstonecraft lived at Epping and at Beverley, Yorkshire, where she met Jane Arden, with whom she developed a passionate friendship. The family moved to London, Wales and once more London. In 1784 she set up a school at Newington Green together with her sister Eliza. After the school closed in 1786 she worked as a governess for the Kingsborough family at at Mitchelstown, Ireland.

After her dismissal in 1787 publisher Joseph Johnson gave her work as a translator and from then on she lived from her pen and worked mostly for him.

In France she witnessed the French Revolution in 1789 and she developed a feministic way of thinking. In 1792 she published her "A Vindication to the Rights of Woman" (In 1791 Thomas Paine had published his "Rights of Man").

She had a child, Fanny, by the American Gilbert Imlay. In May 1795 she tried to kill herself, possibly because she had discovered that Imlay had an affair with another woman. In June 1795 she travelled to Scandinavia, where she stayed for a few months. Back in London she tried to take her life again by jumping from Putney Bridge into the Thames on 10 Oct 1795. She was rescued by an unknown after she had lost conciousness.

Mary had first met the filosopher William Godwin in 1791 at Johnson's and in they met 1796 again at Mary Hays'. Her relationship with Imlay had ended by now and she visited Godwin alone on 14 April 1796. In August they became lovers and after she became pregnant Godwin married her, allthough he had been opposed to marriage all his life. She gave birth to their daughter Mary (of later Frankenstein fame), but the mother died ten days later of an infection caused by the unhygienic pratices that were common during childbirth in those days.

Mary Wollstonecraft was buried at St. Pancras' Churchyard in London (where she had been married only five months before) and it was at her grave that her daughter Mary declared her love to Percy Bysshe Shelley on 26 June 1814. Godwin was buried there too in 1836, but their remains where moved to Bournemouth when St. Pancras' Churchyard was broken up for the railroad to St. Pancras' Station, but her tombstone can still be seen in the remaining part of the old cemetery.

Family
• Daughter: Shelley, Mary
• Daughter: Imlay, Fanny
• Husband: Godwin, William

Related persons
• was a friend of Hays, Mary
• has a connection with Siddons, Sarah

Events
1814/6/26: Mary Godwin and Percy Bysshe Shelley declare each other their love
They did so at the tomb of Mary's mother Mary Wollstonecraft. When Mary's father William Godwin heard the news he strongly disagreed.

Sources
• Bernheim, Cathy, Mary Shelley, Qui Ítes-vous?, La Manufacture, Lyon, 1988
• Tomalin, Claire, The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft, Penguin Books, London, 1992
• Todd, Janet (ed.), The Collected Letters of Mary Wollstonecraft, Columbia University Press, New York

Images

The tombstone of Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin at 'Old' St. Pancras Churchyard in London. Their remains were moved to Bournemouth in 1851. The cemetery was largely broken up for the construction of the railroad in 1866.
Picture by Androom (14 Dec 1993)

 

"Mary Wollstonecraft" by John Opie (National Portrait Gallery, London).
(c1797)

 

The grave monument for William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft at St. Pancras Old Churchyard, St. Pancras Road, London. Their remains were moved to Bournemouth following the death of Mary Shelley in 1851.
Picture by Androom (28 May 2004)

 

William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft were married in 1797 at Old St. Pancras Church, St. Pancras Road, London.
Picture by Androom (28 May 2004)

 

The grave of Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin and Mary Shelley at St. Peter's Churchyard, Bournemouth.
Picture by Androom (18 Jun 2010)

 

The grave of Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin and Mary Shelley at St. Peter's Churchyard, Bournemouth.
Picture by Androom (18 Jun 2010)

 

The grave of Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin and Mary Shelley at St. Peter's Churchyard, Bournemouth.
Picture by Androom (18 Jun 2010)

 

Plaque for Mary Shelley at St. Peter's Church, Bournemouth.
Picture by Androom (18 Jun 2010)

 


Wolter, Charlotte

Published: 1 Jan 2006
Last update: 4 Jul 2010