Recommended Reading: (Hackett, 1991);P.
Barnes (Washington Square, 1993);, ed.
Bereft of his companion, Godwin dealt with his affliction in the only way he knew, by intellectual reasoning and reflection. The day after her funeral, he began to sort through 's papers, and by 24 September he had started working on the story of her life. His loving tribute to her, published in January 1798 as the , is a sensitive but full and factual account of the life and writings of his wife, including Wollstonecraft's infatuation with the painter Henry Fuseli; her affair with American speculator and former officer in the American Revolutionary Army, Gilbert Imlay, the father of her illegitimate daughter, Fanny; and her two unsuccessful attempts at taking her own life. Godwin's noble intention was to immortalize his wife, whom he considered to be a "person of eminent merit." Instead of expressing admiration, however, the public condemned Wollstonecraft as licentious, and read her attempted suicides in terms of her lack of religious convictions. When Godwin had declared in the that "There are not many individuals with whose character the public welfare and improvement are more intimately connected" than his subject, he could not have predicted how accurately and with what irony this statement would become true. For at least the next hundred years the feminist cause was to suffer setback after setback because of society's association of sexual promiscuity with those who advocated the rights of women. In the index to the of 1798, for example, "See " is the only entry listed under "Prostitution," and the Wollstonecraft listing ends with a cross-reference to "Prostitution." Such was the complex and ambiguous heritage Mary Shelley received from her mother. She was to grow up with what Anne K. Mellor had described as a "powerful and ever-to-be frustrated need to be mothered," as well as with the realization that the parent she had never known was both celebrated as a pioneer reformer of woman's rights and education, and castigated as an "unsex'd female."
Rorty (California, 1988);Alfred R.
Godwin immediately became the chief object of her affections, as he was her primary caretaker for the first three years of her life. Having studied progressive educational authorities, from Jean-Jacques Rousseau to his contemporaries, Godwin also attempted to adopt many of Wollstonecraft's child-care practices. Precocious, sensitive, and spirited, Mary became his favorite child. He called her "pretty little Mary" and relished evidence of her superiority over Fanny. He supervised their early schooling and took them on various excursions--to Pope's Grotto at Twickenham, to theatrical pantomimes, and to dinners with his friends and Charles and . Mary Shelley 's attachment to her father was to become intense and long lasting.