At the end of Vindication, Gordon includes an aftermath concerning Mary Wollstonecraft’s heirs and followers — her two daughters, Fanny Imlay and Mary Godwin, their step-sister Claire Clairmont, and her early pupil Margaret King, Lady Mount Cashell. Wollstonecraft’s daughter Mary married the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and is best known as the author of Frankenstein. Read more about her and Frankenstein’s Shadow at Fickle Foe.
Claire Clairmont, perhaps jealous of Mary’s relationship with Shelley, seduced the poet Byron, who seems to have cared little for her. After she gave birth to his daughter, Byron took the child but refused to let Claire see her, even after he left young girl to be raised at a convent, where, tragically, she died.
Claire outlived them all, dying at the age of 81. In addition to being immortalized in several of Shelley’s poems, she appears as Juliana Bordereau, a central character in The Aspern Papers by Henry James. A good summary of Claire’s long and interesting life can be found here.
Naturally, curiosity aroused, I wanted our next book to be The Aspern Papers. I’ve always been drawn more to survivors and strivers than victims. The group decided to go with James’s more famous — and much longer — The Ambassadors. The first half is on deck for early November.
By the way, I’ve linked to Amazon for your convenience, since there are plot summaries and reviews there. But the full texts are available online at these links: