Betwixt and Between
The Biographies of Mary Wollstonecraft
About This Book
When biographers write about a person’s life, they prioritize what is important to themselves: What interests them, what resonates with them, what helps them, what teaches them, what makes sense to them, and, most significantly, what advances their own political agendas. Their research is filtered through these lenses. Even if their biographical goal is to learn and present enough about their writers to better analyze a certain canon, literary critics usually construct life stories through their own theoretical positions. Certainly, readers should be aware that biographies bend according to their authors’ psychological makeup, cultural encoding, historical agency, and political penchants. Furthermore, biographies often reflect the age in which they are written, more so than the age in which their subject lived. This is not always a negative outcome, but it always imbues the portrait of the “biographee” with its own qualities so that the facsimile is never unadulterated. [NP] Betwixt and Between is an investigation of the biographical corpus of Mary Wollstonecraft, starting with Godwin’s Memoirs (1798) and ending with Charlotte Gordon’s Romantic Outlaws (2015). It identifies the biases, contradictions, errors, ambiguities, and gaps that have run rampant, many of them incomprehensively left unchecked and perpetuated from publication to publication. The myriad, often contradictory renditions of her life and thoughts have given us such a distorted view of Wollstonecraft that she has evolved into varying degrees of heroine and villain, an everywoman for every cause.
Dr. Brenda Ayres is a full professor of nineteenth-century English literature, member of the graduate faculty and Assistant Director of Honors at Liberty University, United States. She has published extensively in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature with over 170 articles and 26 book publications.