New Jersey and what not to say about your dead spouse
I am a little distracted as I am getting ready to drive to New Jersey tomorrow to talk to a book group about Mistress Bradstreet. I am always happy to talk about Anne (Bradstreet) and the writing of that book, but I wish that Mary and Mary was finished –somehow — maybe by someone else, and that I was driving south to talk about the Marys. I am worried that the group will ask about Puritans and I will talk about the Georgians instead. Or the Victorians.
Currently, I am annoyed at Mary Wollstonecraft’s husband Godwin. This is not new. I am frequently irritated with him. But today I am writing (well, really re-writing) the section of the book where Godwin writes a Tell-All scandalous “true” biography of Mary after she dies. He detailed her love affairs, her suicide attempts, her illegitimate baby, and their own marriage that occurred After baby Mary (Shelley) was conceived. All this was shocking to readers in 1798 and somewhere in his thick head he knew this would be the case. What he said, and probably believed, was that he was not ashamed of the way she lived her life. Hah! I think he was angry at her for lots of reasons that he did not realize. Not that he judged her sex life. But they had ongoing disagreements about many things, like art, the proper roles of men and women, politics, religion. Plus, she had just abandoned him, leaving him with the aforementioned illegitimate baby (now three years old) and an infant. At any rate, his “Memoir” ruined Mary’s reputation for almost two hundred years. Thank goodness Virginia Woolf rescued her from the dung heap.