The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

April 27, 2017

April 27, 1759

Claire Tomalin wrote the best biography of Mary Wollstonecraft (April 27, 1759 to September 10, 1797): The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft (1974). A vivid picture emerges of the woman who contended women were the equal of men, that only their lack of educational opportunities prevented this from being obvious. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) is still a famous statement of women's rights. 1792 was a pivotal year also for French society. Drawn to this center of radical activity, Wollstonecraft visited Paris. She was welcomed there, and saw the king on trial.

Although this is not quoted by Tomalin, there is a letter extant in which Wollstonecraft describes her feelings at this time. Mary Wollstonecraft: A Sketch, (H. R. James, 1932), quotes Wollstonecraft's letter, to Joseph Johnson, dated December 26, 1792. It was composed after she saw the King's trial.

I have been alone ever since,
[seeing the king in court] and though my mind is calm I cannot dismiss the lively images that have filled my imagination all the day. Nay, do not smile but pity me, for, once or twice, lifting my eyes from the paper, I have seen eyes glare through a glass door opposite my chair, and bloody hands shook at me! ....I wish I had even kept the cat with me ! I want to see something alive; death in so many frightful shapes has taken hold of my fancy. I am going to bed, and for the first time in my life, I cannot put out the candle.'

Her daughter of course grew up and wrote Frankenstein.

No comments: