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Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley

Writing Lives

Helen M. Buss, D. L. Macdonald, and Anne McWhir, editors

Hardcover 340 pp.

ISBN13: 978-0-88920-363-1

Release Date: June 2001

Online discount: 25%

$49.99  $37.49


Paper 340 pp.

ISBN13: 978-0-88920-364-8

Release Date: June 2001

Online discount: 25%

$48.99  $36.74


eBook availability

Pioneers in life writing, Mary Wollstonecraft, author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), and Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein (1818 ), are now widely regarded as two of the leading writers of the Romantic period. They are both responsible for opening up new possibilities for women in genres traditionally dominated by men.

This volume brings together essays on Wollstonecraft’s and Shelley’s life writing by some of the most prominent scholars in Canada, Australia, and the United States. It also includes a full-length play by award-winning Canadian playwright Rose Scollard. Together, the essays and the play explore the connections between mother and daughter, between writing and life, and between criticism and creation. They offer a new understanding of two important writers, of a literary period, and of emergent modes of life writing.

Essayists include Judith Barbour, Betty T. Bennett, Anne K. Mellor, Charles E. Robinson, Eleanor Ty, and Lisa Vargo. Among the works discussed are Wollstonecraft’s Vindication, Letters from Norway, and Maria; or, The Wrongs of Woman; William Godwin’s Memoirs of Wollstonecraft; and Shelley’s Frankenstein, The Last Man, Ladore, and Rambles in Germany and Italy.

Helen M. Buss is a professor of English at the University of Calgary. Her book on Canadian women’s life writing, Mapping Our Selves, won the Gabrielle Roy Prize. As Margaret Clarke, she has published novels, short stories and poetry.

D. L. Macdonald teaches English at the University of Calgary. He is the author of Poor Polidori: A Critical Biography of the Author of “The Vampyre” (1991) and of Monk Lewis (2000).

Anne McWhir is a professor of English at the University of Calgary and has written extensively on William Wordsworth, Mary Shelley and P. B. Shelley.


“Most of the scholars represented have written extensively on the period in which Wollstonecraft and Shelley were writing, and many are established leaders in the field.... The book is refreshingly multivalent.... The contributors offer a number of impressive theoretical points with significance beyond the subjects at hand.”

— Audrey Bilger, Biography

“This collection of essays on the lives and writings of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley is an achievement for which the editors, the press, and the Calgary Institute for the Humanities...should be congratulated.... The present volume offers much of value not only to Shelley and Wollstonecraft specialists but also to two much larger constituencies: those engaged with feminist thought and praxis, and students of life writing in all its forms.... The collection ends with Caves of Fancy a sharp, sexy dramatization by Rose Scollard of the lives of Mary Shelley, Fanny Imlay, and Claire Clairmont.... It is a lively conclusion to a volume that significantly advances the study of life writing, of these two women’s lives, and of their writings.”

— Anthony John Harding, University of Saskatchewan, English Studies in Canada