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William Godwin's memoir of his wife, Mary Wollstonecraft, marks a transition in Godwin's philosophical development from extreme rationalism to the recognition of the moral importance of feeling and sympathy which was to energize his later writings. Memoirs also belongs to a tradition of biographical writing that sought to transform the consciousness of readers by using individual history as an agent of historical change. Written during the weeks following Wollstonecraft's early death, Memoirs provides an interpretation of the relations between Wollstonecraft's writings and her personal history, a candid account of her various relationships, and a vindication of her egalitarian intimacy with Godwin. This modern, scholarly edition, geared for student use, includes a wide range of primary sources, together with excerpts from Godwin's other writings and from biographical models.
William Godwin: A Brief Chronology
Note on the Text
Memoirs of the Author of a Vindication of the Rights of Woman
Appendix A: Biographical Models
1. From Rousseau's The Confessions
2. From Boswell's Life of Johnson
3. From Madame Roland's An Appeal to Impartial Posterity
Appendix B: Works by Godwin
1. From An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice
2. From The Enquirer
3. From "Essay of History and Romance"
Appendix C: Letters
1. From Wollstonecraft, Letters to Imlay
2. From Godwin & Wollstonecraft: Letters of William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft
3. Letters Transcribed from Manuscript
Appendix D: Reactions
1. Contemporary Reviews
1. From the Analytical Review 27 (March 1798)
2. From the Anti-Jacobin Review 1 (July 1798)
3. From the Monthly Review 27 (Nov. 1798)
4. From the New Annual Register for 1798 (1799)
5. From the Lady's Monitor 1, No. 17 (2 Dec. 1801)
2. Other Responses
1. From Anna Seward, Letters of Anna Seward
2. From [Richard Polwhele], The Unsex'd Females
3. From [Mary Hays], "Memoirs of Mary Wollstonecraft," Annual Necrology for 1797-1798
4. From [John Fenwick], "Mr. Godwin," Public Characters of 1799-1800
5. From [C. Kirkpatrick Sharpe], "The Vision of Liberty"
6. Anon., "Ode to the Memory of Mary Wollstonecraft"
7. From Amelia Opie, Adeline Mowbray
8. From Virginia Woolf, "Four Figures," The Common Reader, 2nd Series
9. John Whale, "Elegy: for Mary Wollstonecraft"
Appendix E: Variants in the Second Edition
Posted December 24, 2009
No text was provided for this review.