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brings to life a pioneering English feminist and the daughter she never knew. Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley has each been the subject of numerous biographies. Yet no author has ever examined their lives in one book — until now.

Mary Wollstonecraft died in 1797, ten days after giving birth to her second daughter. Five years earlier, Wollstonecraft had won fame by proclaiming the rights of women in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Her daughter Mary was to follow a similarly audacious path, publishing Frankenstein at age nineteen. Brave, passionate, and visionary, Wollstonecraft and Shelley broke almost every rule there was to break. They had scandalous love affairs, bore children out of wedlock and chose to live in exile outside their native country. Each in her own time fought against the injustices women faced and wrote books that changed literary history.

Romantic Outlaws interweaves their lives in alternating chapters, taking readers on a vivid journey across Revolutionary France and Victorian England, from the seaports of Italy to the highlands of Scotland. The cast of characters also includes the men in their lives, including the mercurial genius Percy Shelley, the unbridled libertine Lord Byron, and the brilliant, radical William Godwin.

In a book that reads like a richly textured historical novel, Gordon reveals for the first time the defiant, creative lives of this daring mother-daughter pair who refused to be confined by the rigid conventions of their era.

“Wordsworth and Byron must step aside
to make room for two brilliant women,
Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter
Mary Shelley, early and late Romantics
whose remarkable contributions to their
time and ours lend Gordon’s artfully
twined tale special significance.”
—MEGAN MARSHALL, Pulitzer Prize-winning
author of Margaret Fuller: A New American Life 
and The Peabody Sisters