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New Jersey and what not to say about your dead spouse

April 14, 2010

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.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Amy Portney permalink
    April 15, 2010 3:44 pm

    Dear Ms. Gordon,

    I am a member of the book club in New Jersey that you are visiting on Friday. Thank you for taking the time to discuss your book with us. I am thrilled that we will have a chance to meet you.

  2. April 18, 2010 12:22 am

    So, Godwin is the sort of man who’d be all over the tabloids with his tell-all, and then parlay it into a “reality” television program ala Kate Gosselin (or whatever her name is)? Juicy gossip has been the preferred fruit of many a jealous person and the preferred money maker of just about any newspaper or magazine.

    I hope your talk in Jersey went well.

  3. April 18, 2010 8:27 pm

    THank you! I had a wonderful time with your group. I thought it was very kind of you to invite me!

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