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Her Own Woman: The Life of Mary…

Her Own Woman: The Life of Mary Wollstonecraft

by Diane Jacobs

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461391,142 (4.75)5
"Pioneering eighteenth-century feminist Mary Wollstonecraft lived a life as radical as her vision of a fairer world. She overcame great disadvantages - poverty (her abusive, sybaritic father squandered the family fortune), a frivolous education, and the stigma of being unmarried in a man's world." "Her life changed when Thomas Paine's publisher, Joseph Johnson, determined to make her a writer. Wollstonecraft's great feminist document, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, which brought her fame throughout Europe, insisted that women reap all the new liberties men were celebrating since the fall of the Bastille in France." "This biography of Mary Wollstonecraft gives a balanced, thorough, freshly sympathetic view. Diane Jacobs also continues Wollstonecraft's story by concluding with those of her daughters. Her Own Woman is distinguished by the author's use of new first sources, among which are Joseph Johnson's letters, discovered by an heir in the late 1990s, and rare letters referring to Wollstonecraft's lover Gilbert Imlay. Jacobs has written an absorbing narrative that is essential to understanding Mary Wollstonecraft's life and the importance it has had on women throughout history."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)



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A good, honest biography of this courageous woman, pulled from her letters, writings, and the journals of her friends and compatriots during her lifetime. And after her lifetime - her influence is felt long past her untimely death.

While born into an abusive family where the primogeniture of her older brother, Ned, excluded everyone else from receiving their parents' love and good attention, Mary as the oldest daughter saw that the world of the intellect was the most open one for her. Her schooling was spotty but still she learned spelling and grammar from her close childhood friend; her first set of short stories was illustrated by William Blake; and she had the financial freedom and personal opportunity to live in Paris during the French Revolution.

Ms. Jacobs brings the writings to life by including those of her publisher, Joseph Johnson, her sisters, and her increasing circle of friends without modern changes to grammar or spelling. I was often struck while reading these passages of how difficult it must have been to pull this vast bit of knowledge in and consolidate it into an observation or to make a point.

The world was changing quickly during Mary's lifetime and she was fully available to meet it. Her obsession with her first love is all the more refreshing for those of us who have been through a difficult break-up and can't seem to shake off the feelings of the beloved for another suitor. Her masterpiece Vindication of the Rights of Women resonates through the centuries, and she is able, as shown through her various writings, to incorporate her various life changes (shunning love, falling in love, finding her own way after the love) while still remaining true to her personal journey. ( )
  threadnsong | Dec 3, 2017 |
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