Charlotte Gordon is a graduate of Harvard College, she received a master's degree in creative writing and a Ph.D. in history and literature from Boston University. She has been a frequent guest on NPR and the CBC, including spots on Weekend Edition and The Current. From 1999-2002 she was Elie Wiesel's teaching assistant at Boston University. Currently, she is an Associate Professor of English at Endicott College.
This groundbreaking dual biography brings to life a pioneering English feminist and the daughter she never knew. Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley have each been the subject of numerous biographies, yet no one has ever examined their lives in one book—until now. In Romantic Outlaws, Charlotte Gordon reunites the trailblazing author who wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and the Romantic visionary who gave the world Frankenstein—two courageous women who should have shared their lives, but instead shared a powerful literary and feminist legacy.
In 1797, less than two weeks after giving birth to her second daughter, Mary Wollstonecraft died, and a remarkable life spent pushing against the boundaries of society’s expectations for women came to an end. But another was just beginning. Wollstonecraft’s daughter Mary was to follow a similarly audacious path. Both women had passionate relationships with several men, bore children out of wedlock, and chose to live in exile outside their native country. Each in her own time fought against the injustices women faced and wrote books that changed literary history.
The private lives of both Marys were nothing less than the stuff of great Romantic drama, providing fabulous material for Charlotte Gordon, an accomplished historian and a gifted storyteller. Taking readers on a vivid journey across revolutionary France and Victorian England, she seamlessly interweaves the lives of her two protagonists in alternating chapters, creating a book that reads like a richly textured historical novel. Gordon also paints unforgettable portraits of the men in their lives, including the mercurial genius Percy Shelley, the unbridled libertine Lord Byron, and the brilliant radical William Godwin.
“Brave, passionate, and visionary, they broke almost every rule there was to break,” Charlotte Gordon writes of Wollstonecraft and Shelley. A truly revelatory biography, Romantic Outlaws reveals the defiant, creative lives of this daring mother-daughter pair who refused to be confined by the rigid conventions of their era.
Advance praise for Romantic Outlaws
“A fascinating, thoughtful and continuously absorbing book, one to which I know I shall return on many future occasions.”—Miranda Seymour, author of Mary Shelley
“Charlotte Gordon reunites a mother and daughter tragically separated at birth in this rousing and surpassingly readable epic spanning the Romantic era. Wordsworth and Byron must step aside to make room for two brilliant women, Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley, early and late Romantics whose remarkable contributions to their time and ours lend Gordon’s artfully twined tale special significance.”—Megan Marshall, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Margaret Fuller: A New American Life
“Romantic Outlaws is a gripping account of the heartbreaks and triumphs of two of history’s most formidable female intellectuals, Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley. Gordon has reunited mother and daughter through biography, beautifully weaving their narratives for the first time.”—Amanda Foreman, author of A World on Fire
“Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley stand out as daring, unconventional, and courageous women—in their times and ours. Appreciate the ‘heroic exertions’ of their lives and savor the skill with which Charlotte Gordon tells their intersecting stories.”—Susan Ware, general editor, American National Biography