Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin was born in London on 30 August, 1797. Her parents were both radical free-thinkers, but despite talking the talk and beginning to walk the walk, they decided for the sake of social respectability that they would marry some five months before her birth. They had met only 13 months earlier, but despite oft-stated ethical opposition to the institution of marriage, they felt their child would need the legitimacy of a church-sanctified union, even though both of them were atheists.
Both of Mary's parents were writers. Her mother Mary Wollstonecraft was a well-known feminist writer, and her father William Godwin was a respected political journalist and philosopher. This would appear to have made for a very good start for the young Mary, but fate struck a cruel blow just ten days after her birth. Her mother died tragically of placental infection, following complications. This left Mary and her half-sister Fanny Imlay [The illegitimate daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft and Gilbert Imlay, an American Revolutionary Army Officer. ] in the care of the bereft William Godwin.
Following his wife's death, Godwin published her life story, warts and all, in his book Memoirs of the Author of aContinued page 3/8