August 30 marks two major events in Romantic literature. Today is the day Mary Godwin Shelley was born in 1797, which lead to an infection in her mother’s womb. Thus the world lost its pioneering feminist and adventuress, Mary Wollstonecraft, ten days later.
This wabi-sabi truth of creation would haunt Mary and the pages of her most famous creation. In her own life, too, she strove to live within her mother’s ideals, and as a result, lead a very interesting and parallel life to Wollstonecraft’s. It is an obvious thesis, but not until last year has any biographer sat down to illustrate the various connections outside of academic and intellectual sympathies.
Enter Charlotte Gordon’s Romantic Outlaws. Telling both of Marys’ stories in alternating chapters, she makes great and thorough connections with their posthumous relationship, and as a result, really enhances any and all readings of Mary Shelley’s work. It is no surprise that it was the winner of the National Book Critics Circle award. It is, by far, my favorite resource for my own studies, and if you are looking to celebrate Mary Shelley today, or any day, honoring both her and her mother’s lives is a great way to do it. For more information on Romantic Outlaws, including purchasing details, check out Gordon’s website here.