Giving Nineteenth Century Women Writers a Voice and a Face — Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley [née Godwin], (1797–1851) Part 2

Putting together this exhibition, I have been amazed by the how closely the women writers of the nineteenth century were connected to one another.  I discovered one of these connections investigating this fragment of a letter owned by the Armstrong Browning Library.

[1830, June 18]

Maria Jane Jewsbury to Anna Brownell Jameson

 Although only the last page of the letter survives in our collection, the entire letter is printed in Anna Jameson: Letters and Friendships, edited by Mrs. Stewart Erskine, published in 1915. Maria Jane Jewsbury responds to Anna Jameson’s question about her opinion of Mary Shelley:

 As you expressed a desire to know my opinion of Mrs. Shelley, I will take the present opportunity of saying, that I rarely, if ever, met with a woman to whom I felt so disposed to apply the epithet “bewitching.” I can of course merely speak of appearances, but she struck me in the light of a matured child; a union of buoyancy and depth . . . .Her hilarity, contrasted with the almost sadly profound nature of some of her remarks, somewhat puzzled me . . . . I doubt her being a happy woman, and I also doubt her being one that could be distinctly termed melancholy. . . . She reminded me of no person I ever saw but she has made me wish the arrival of the time when I am to see her again.

 Melinda Creech




One thought on “Giving Nineteenth Century Women Writers a Voice and a Face — Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley [née Godwin], (1797–1851) Part 2

  1. The Armstrong Browning Library has just added Rambles in Germany and Italy in 1840, 1842 and 1843. 2 vols. London, 1844, by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley to their Browning Library Copies Collection. These were Mary Shelley’s last books, and they are based on two trips that she took with her son Percy Florence Shelley in 1840 and 1842-43. She had first made a trip in 1823 with her baby boy Percy, shortly after her husband and two other children, Clara and William Shelley had died. On the return trip, her son, her only surviving child, was 20. On the second trip she visited her husband grave in Rome, during holy week. She says,

    “Besides all that Rome itself affords […] to the eye and imagination, I revisit it as the bourne of a pious pilgrimage. The treasures of my youth lie buried here.”

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