Sunday, 24 September 2017

Book Review - Romantic Outlaws by Charlotte Gordon

This is a mammoth book and took me quite a while to read. However I'm glad I persevered as it was both enlightening and interesting. As a long time devotee of Shelley I knew some of the aspects of Mary Shelley's life but I learned more about her as a writer from this biography. Mary Wollstonecraft was a revelation to me and the fact that her reputation had been tarnished until the 1970s came as a real shock.

Both women were formidable intellectuals, writing about women's rights and issues long before it became acceptable to do so. Both fell victim to the moral climate in which they lived and both 'sacrificed' much to be with the men they loved. Those men also did not always treat them well and neither Shelly nor Godwin come out of this book particularly well.

Once I had finished I felt I knew both women and was stunned by the parallels in their lives. I now need to read some of their works, Frankenstein apart, and try to really understand what they were saying about society and its treatment of women in the late 18th early 19th centuries. I recommend this book wholeheartedly, even if it is more of a marathon than a sprint to read.

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