William Godwin: Memoirs of the Author of a Vindication of the Rights of Woman

Part of the Shelley's Ghost Exhibition. Godwin's memoir of Mary Wollstonecraft has been called the first modern biography. At the time, however, its frankness and emotional candour provoked general outrage.

Godwin did not hesitate to include the most painful and scandalous episodes in Mary's life: her brutal, drunken father; her affair with Gilbert Imlay and the birth of their illegitimate daughter, Fanny; her two suicide attempts; her unconventional religious faith; the ghastly details of her death. The poet Robert Southey joined the chorus of disapproval and condemned Godwin for 'stripping his dead wife naked'.