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Romantic Outlaws


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Inventive, page-turning, involving biography at its best.

Romantic Outlaws is the first book to tell the story of the passionate and pioneering lives of Mary Wollstonecraft - English feminist and author of the landmark book, The Vindication of the Rights of Woman - and her novelist daughter Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein.

About the Author

Charlotte Gordon is a prize-winning poet and biographer. She received her undergraduate degree in English and American Literature from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from Boston University. Since 1986, she has taught creative writing, history, literature, religion, and theatre. Her poetry has won many prizes, including a Robert Penn Warren Award. Her biography of the seventeenth-century poet, Anne Bradstreet, Mistress Bradstreet- The Untold Life of America's First Poet won a Massachusetts Book Award for non-fiction.


"[A] unique double biography... An excellent and poignant book whose heroines breathe in its pages. " -- David Aaronovitch * The Times *
"A mother and daughter who changed not only the way we think, but the way we are... extraordinary women, a dozen decades ahead of their time... Romantic Outlaws enables readers to compare the different ways in which these two remarkable women confronted their tragically different destinies... [A] thoughtful, intelligent, deeply-felt book'" -- Miranda Seymour * Sunday Times *
"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 *
"Full of enriching paradox... Charlotte Gordon has managed to produce that rare thing, a work of genuinely popular history... It works beautifully." -- Melissa Benn * New Statesman *
"Wollstonecraft and Shelley were extraordinary women who led sensational lives. They were Romantic revolutionaries... retelling their story cannot fail to captivate and provoke." * Spectator *
"Unique... Marvellous, passionate stuff." -- David Aaronovitch * Books of the Year, Times *
"An exceptional achievement" -- Michael Morpugo * Daily Telegraph *
"An innovative dual biography that foregrounds the writing of two women who disregarded the moral codes of their eras and shaped their own destinies. Gordon's parallel mapping of their lives reveals fascinating similarities in the ways writing sustained, and sometimes saved, them both." * Financial Times *
"Mother and daughter shadow and reveal each other. The retelling emphasises the extent to which Shelley's life was shaped by her mother's legacy but here is underlined in thought-provoking ways... In Gordon's narrative, [Wollstonecraft and Shelley] appear at their best and bravest." -- Daisy Hay * Observer *
"A most welcome deeper take on the women who scandalized Victorian England - and whose stories continue to resonate today." * Vogue *

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