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Not to be confused with her daughter, who wrote “Frankenstein”, Mary Wollstonecraft was a founding voice of English Feminism, and certainly one of the most remarkable women of the eighteenth century.
Mary Wollstonecraft (December, 1792)
Radical Thinker, Champion of Women’s Rights, and Mother of Mary Shelley
Appearance/Most Memorable Characteristic: A tall, attractive woman with light brown eyes and auburn hair powdered to a pale tan color, dressed simply but very neatly. She wears no perfume, but is notably clean smelling.
Charisma: 15 Intelligence: 17 Wisdom: 13
Strength: 9 Dexterity: 9 Constitution: 9
Hit Points: 42
Attacks: 1 (punch, or improvised weapon)
Damage Bonus: +2
Special Abilities: Profession: Governess (+1) | Avocation: Writer (+1) | Affection (+1): Abused or Endangered Women | Inheritance: None (withheld by brother) | Social Contacts: Elizabeth “Bess” Bishop (née Wollstonecraft – sister), Everina Wollstonecraft (sister), Jane Arden (early friend), Margaret Moore (née King, Countess of Mount Cashell), George Ogle (conservative Irish politician), Joel Barlow (American writer and poltician), Ruth Barlow, Joseph Johnson (her publisher), Thomas Paine (radical political philosopher), Helen Maria Williams (radical writer), William Godwin (anarchist writer, and future husband), John Opie (painter), William Blake (visionary poet and artist), Thomas Holcroft (writer and radical), Aline Filliettaz (educator)
Weaknesses: Phobia (-1): Disease | Prejudice: High Society
Assets: Talented Writer, Brave
Afflictions: Prone to Melancholy, Fool for Love
Typical Equipment Carried: A simple but neat dress. 50 livres (500p) in cash. A small journal. A pencil. Practical shoes.
Current Residence: 22 Rue Meslay, Paris
Background (to 1792):
- April 27, 1759: Mary Wollstonecraft born in London to an upper-middle class family. Her father John was an alcoholic who aspired to be a country gentleman, and speculated away most of the family fortune while Mary was a girl. As she grew up she frequently had to defend her mother from being beaten by her drunken father.
- 1774: Mary first met eighteen-year old illustrator Fanny Blood. She is overcome with affection for the young woman.
- 1778: In Bath, Mary took a job as Lady’s Companion to a quarrelsome widow named Sarah Dawson.
- 1780: Mary left the employ of Sarah Dawson and returned home, where her mother was dying.
- 1782: Moved into the Blood household after her father’s remarriage to a woman Mary disliked.
- 1784: Helped her sister Eliza escape an abusive marriage and hide from her husband. (Mary would later fictionalize the incident in her novel “Maria: or, The Wrongs of Woman”, published posthumously in 1798.) With financial help from an window named Mrs. Burgh, Mary founded a school in the village of Newington Green, just north of London. She took up residence there with her sister Eliza, and Fanny Blood. Fanny left the school upon the advice of doctors that she she live in a warmer climate.
- 1785: Mary travels to Lisbon, Portugal to be with Fanny, who is living there with her new husband. Fanny died shortly after giving birth to a child, and Mary returned to England.
- 1786: After her school failed, Mary took a position as Governess to the aristocratic King family in Dublin. Formed a lifelong bond with the oldest daughter Margaret (who after her marriage in 1791 became Margaret Moore, Countess of Mount Cashell).
- 1787: Published “Thoughts on the Education of Daughters”, a set of fairly conservative exhortations about the upbringing of girls. After all her debts were paid off by a mysterious benefactor, she left employment of the Kings, and took a position with Joseph Johnson’s radical literary magazine, Analytical Review.
- 1788: Published “Mary: A Fiction”, a novel based loosely on her own life. The novel is notable in its portrayal of the deep “romantic friendship” between its protagonist and another woman, based on the Mary’s own relationship with Fanny Blood. Later that year Mary also published her children’s book, “Original Stories From Real Life”.
- 1790: Published “Vindication of the Rights of Men” a passionate refutation of “Reflections on the Revolution in France”, Edmund Burke’s screed against social equality. The book was a great popular success.
- 1791: “Original Stories From Real Life” republished with illustrations by William Blake. Mary Met William Godwin, her future husband, at a dinner given by her publisher Joseph Johnson. Mary and William did not get along at the time.
- 1792: Published her opus “Vindication of the Rights of Women”. The book was a sensation in liberal circles, but was viciously condemned by conservatives outraged by the suggestion that women might be human beings with rights. Mary met Henry Fuseli, painter of “The Nightmare”, and became infatuated with him. Mary asked to join the Fuseli household, but assured Fuseli’s wife Sophia that she would abstain from sex with John. Sophia was outraged, and insisted that Henry have nothing more to do with Mary.
- December 1792: Commissioned by her publisher to write about the French Revolution, Mary traveled to Paris. She took up residence at the home of Aline Filliettaz (née Bregantz), the daughter of the headmistress of a school were Mary’s sisters had taught. Aline and her husband were away when Mary arrived.
Personality and Role-Playing Notes: Mary is a conflicted soul who often seems torn between her deeply-held intellectual beliefs and sensual desires. Idealistic and sensitive, she loves and hurts deeply. She suffers from periods of deep depression, and will ruminate on insults. While she is polite and eloquent, Mary is also a fierce debater. She is exceptionally courageous for an eighteenth century woman, often traveling unescorted (in defiance of social convention), and deliberately walking city streets alone at night. She appreciates art and music, and loves to visit shows and converse earnestly about great painters and sculptors. Despite her previous work as a Lady’s Companion and a Governess, she despises the artificiality and pretension of High Society.
Mary is noticeably neat and clean in her appearance, although she lacks the funds to dress fashionably. Unlike many of her contemporaries, she tries to take a full bath (not just a sponge bath) as often as she can. Her concern with hygiene includes a distinct tendency towards hypochondria (ironic, since she will eventually die from septicemia after giving birth to her daughter Mary).
Although she can read formal French (as well as German) well enough to do translations, Mary’s comprehension of the spoken language is not good this point. She will prefer to converse in English if possible. She speaks with a slight Yorkshire accent, due to years spent there as a girl.
Mary Wollstonecraft in Your Game: Mary has just arrived in Paris, and is living alone in a large house with her hosts’ servants. She is always looking for a puzzle to solve, or an injustice to right. Mary may know of a woman who has been unjustly committed to a madhouse by her husband, and ask that the PCs help rescue her. Alternately, she could become involved in tracking down a perverse aristocrat attempting to flee France with a kidnapped peasant girl.
Mary should certainly be able to hold her own in a fight, if necessary. Mary’s Affection for abused and endangered women grants her a +1 Bonus on any action she takes on their behalf. Also, her low Perversity enables her to ward off creatures of supernatural Evil, even though will initially deny that such unreasonable things could exist!
Mary could become romantically involved for a short time with either a male or female PC. At this time she will be dismissive of the idea of marriage with a man, insisting that women should live together instead. Her great tragic romance with the American adventurer Gilbert Imlay will not begin until next year.
A Note on Mary’s “Romantic Friendships”:
It’s difficult to be certain whether the historical Mary Wollstonecraft was actually bisexual. The problem arises from the ambiguous nature of the “romantic friendships” which were common among 18th century women. It is unclear from the historical record just how often such “friendships” progressed beyond holding hands and exchanging passionate declarations of love, although many certainly did. While it seems fairly obvious that Mary was deeply in love with Fanny Blood, for example, we simply don’t know how physically intimate the two were.