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Death and the Maidens: Fanny Wollstonecraft and the Shelley Circle

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Death and the Maidens: Fanny Wollstonecraft and the Shelley Circle Cover

ISBN13: 9781582433394
ISBN10: 1582433399
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

From the Romantic period's star circle, the story of its saddest casualty — Fanny Wollstonecraft, daughter of an original feminist, sister of a literary star, and hopeful object of a poet's affection, dead of suicide at the age of nineteen.

Little contemporary information was written about Fanny Wollstonecraft, whose mother Mary Wollstonecraft's scandalous life scarred Fanny's possibilities before she was even born. Deserted by her father, yet reared by Mary's husband William Godwin, Fanny barely had a chance to adjust when her mother died from giving birth to the legitimate and lovely Mary. Fanny was always considered the ungainly one, the plain one, the less intelligent one. Finally her imagination was sparked by the arrival of Percy Bysshe Shelley to the Godwin household. Her infatuation was quickly shattered when Shelley, like so many before him, chose the company of her sister instead, and though Fanny bore this rejection bravely, she was never quite the same after Mary and Shelley eloped along with her step-sister Claire — who would later track down and seduce Lord Byron.

Awash in a sea of sexual radicals, Fanny acted as personal assistant and go-between to this den of hedonists, shuttling information from one faction to the other, covering her sister's lies and creating fabrications of her own. She ultimately ended her life alone in a Welsh seaside hotel, an empty bottle of laudanum and an unsigned note by her side.

Janet Todd's meticulously researched and brilliantly told rendering of this life give fresh and fascinating insight to the Shelley-Byron world even as it draws Fanny out of the shadows of her mother's and sister's stunning careers.

Review:

"'It is little surprise that there has been no major biography of Fanny Wollstonecraft — first daughter, by an American lover, of brilliant feminist theorist Mary Wollstonecraft and elder half-sister of Frankenstein author Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. Fanny produced no books, lived in the shadow of others and found her feelings for Percy Bysshe Shelley ignored, as the poet favored, then married, Mary. Fanny spent a great deal of time as a go-between, helping smooth over the endless sexual and social intrigues of the Shelley and Byron circle. Realizing none of her own dreams, she committed suicide in 1816 at the age of 22. There are moments of terrific insight, such as Mary's odd, confused reaction to Fanny's death and her transforming Fanny into the ill-fated servant girl Justine in Frankenstein, who is unjustly accused of killing a child. Todd has rescued Fanny from ill-deserved obscurity, yet the biography is more of a meditation on the role of all of the women in Byron and Shelley's circle, and its power lies in Todd's soundly and generously feminist reimagining of these women's lives. Not only a splendid work of feminist history, this is an important addition to late 18th- and early 19-century literary criticism.' Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)"

Review:

"How many deaths can be laid at Percy Bysshe Shelley's door? Possibly his own, along with those of the two men who drowned with him when their yacht sank off the Italian coast. But before that, there was his young wife, Harriet, who committed suicide after he abandoned her. And if one is feeling censorious (and one is), most of his children with his second wife, 'Frankenstein' creator Mary Shelley:... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"A sad but intriguing book." Library Journal

Review:

"Todd carefully documents poet Shelley's wildly indulgent and destructive relationships and Fanny's thwarted efforts to be part of his and Mary's world." Booklist

About the Author

Janet Todd is Professor of English Literature at the University of Aberdeen, and the author of many books on early women writers, including the biographies Mary Wollstonecraft and The Secret Life of Aphra Behn. She lives in Glasgow, Scotland, and Cambridge, England.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Jane Norman, March 11, 2008 (view all comments by Jane Norman)
Whether you are a fan of Shelley's poetry or not you will enjoy this entertaining biography of the young romantic poet's elopement with Mary Shelley and the subsequent suicides of his first wife Harriett and Mary's half sister Fanny. (Harriet's suicide was blamed on Shelley's abandonment of her; Fanny's on her unrequited love for Shelley). Along the way you will read about the famous rendez-vous with Lord Byron which resulted in Mary Shelley's masterpiece "Frankenstein" being written. You will read about Shelley's circle of friends, enemies, lovers (platonic), and adventures. And you will learn about Fanny, the illegitimate daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft, the famous author of The Vindication of Women's Rights, who has until now taken a distant second place in literary history to her mother and half sister. I highly recommend this fun and entertaining book.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781582433394
Author:
Todd, Janet
Publisher:
Counterpoint LLC
Subject:
General
Subject:
Authors, English
Subject:
Feminists
Subject:
General Literary Criticism & Collections
Subject:
Women
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Authors, English -- 19th century.
Subject:
Feminists -- Great Britain.
Subject:
General Biography
Subject:
Biography-Women
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20071031
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
8.5 x 5.5 in 17.5 oz

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Related Subjects

Biography » Literary
Biography » Women
History and Social Science » Feminist Studies » 1800 to 1920

Death and the Maidens: Fanny Wollstonecraft and the Shelley Circle Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.25 In Stock
Product details 336 pages Counterpoint - English 9781582433394 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "'It is little surprise that there has been no major biography of Fanny Wollstonecraft — first daughter, by an American lover, of brilliant feminist theorist Mary Wollstonecraft and elder half-sister of Frankenstein author Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. Fanny produced no books, lived in the shadow of others and found her feelings for Percy Bysshe Shelley ignored, as the poet favored, then married, Mary. Fanny spent a great deal of time as a go-between, helping smooth over the endless sexual and social intrigues of the Shelley and Byron circle. Realizing none of her own dreams, she committed suicide in 1816 at the age of 22. There are moments of terrific insight, such as Mary's odd, confused reaction to Fanny's death and her transforming Fanny into the ill-fated servant girl Justine in Frankenstein, who is unjustly accused of killing a child. Todd has rescued Fanny from ill-deserved obscurity, yet the biography is more of a meditation on the role of all of the women in Byron and Shelley's circle, and its power lies in Todd's soundly and generously feminist reimagining of these women's lives. Not only a splendid work of feminist history, this is an important addition to late 18th- and early 19-century literary criticism.' Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)"
"Review" by , "A sad but intriguing book."
"Review" by , "Todd carefully documents poet Shelley's wildly indulgent and destructive relationships and Fanny's thwarted efforts to be part of his and Mary's world."
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