Her Own Woman by Diane Jacobs
The Life of Mary Wollstonecraft

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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.
Wollstonecraft lived as fully as a man would, socializing with the great painters, poets, and revolutionaries of her era. She traveled to Paris during the French Revolution; fell in love with Gilbert Imlay, a fickle American; and, unmarried, openly bore their daughter, Fanny. Wollstonecraft at last found domestic peace with the philosopher William Godwin but died giving birth to their daughter, Mary, who married Percy Bysshe Shelley, wrote the classic Frankenstein, and carried on her mother's bold ideas. Wollstonecraft's first child, Fanny, suffered a more tragic fate.
This definitive 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.

About Diane Jacobs

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Diane Jacobs is the author of Christmas in July: The Life and Art of Preston Sturges, published by the University of California Press. She has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Village Voice. She lives in New York with her daughter.
Published August 6, 2001 by Simon & Schuster. 336 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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She wrote Vindication of the Rights of Woman in response to Edmund Burke’s critique of the Revolution.

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Publishers Weekly

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The life of Wollstonecraft, pioneer feminist, author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, observer of the French Revolution, and mother of Mary Shelley, seems an odd choice for Jacobs, whose previous publications include studies of film directors Woody Allen and Preston Sturges.

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Book Reporter

Born into poverty to an abusive father who squandered a family fortune, with no opportunity for further education, and limited social and intellectual circles determined by her sex, Mary Wollstonecraft became the mother of feminism in all its forms.

Jan 22 2011 | Read Full Review of Her Own Woman: The Life of Ma...

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