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A Letter to the Women of England, Edited by Adriana Craciun, Anna Irmen Close, Megan Musgrave, and Orianne Smith

Mary Wollstonecraft to Mary Robinson
[?April 15, 1796- March 29, 1797]

Dear Madam,

I believe it is scarcely necessary to inform you that Miss Hays will accept of your invitation, and accompany me on Sunday next to dinner at your house.

As you were so obliging as to offer to send the carriage for the little Fannikin, I promised to call for her. In the evening, if one of your servants will put Marguerite in her way, she and Fanny may return at an early house. You will smile at having so much of the womanish mother in me; but there is a little philosophy in it, entre nous; for I like to rouse her infant faculties by strong impressions.

I write in haste, with kind rememberance to your Mary I am yours Sincerely

Mary Imlay

Friday evening, or rather night-


Editorial Note: Quoted by permission of the Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation, Inc.; this letter is part of the Shelley Circle Pforzheimer Collection (SC 360; see below for full documentation).Words underlined in Wollstonecraft's letter are here italicized to avoid confusion with underlined hyperlinks. Wollstonecraft and Robinson probably met through Godwin, whom Robinson had met through their mutual friend Robert Merry in February 1796 (see the editorial note on Merry for Robinson's Ainsi va le Monde (1790) and on Robinson's letter to Godwin). The feminist Mary Hays ("Miss Hays," author of Memoirs of Emma Courtney (1796) and Appeal to the Men of Great Britain in Behalf of Women (1798)), like Wollstonecraft, wrote in strong support of women's capacity for reason and philosophy, though unlike Wollstonecraft (and like Robinson) Hays also celebrated passion as equally important as reason. The "your Mary" to whom Wollstonecraft refers is Mary Elizabeth Robinson, Robinson's daughter, herself a novelist; "Fannikin" is Fanny Imlay, Wollstonecraft's daughter by Gilbert Imlay.

This letter is published (both in facsimile and in transcript) with extensive annotations in Shelley and His Circle 1773-1822, ed. Kenneth Neill Cameron, vol. 4 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1970) p. 877-84.
Shelley Circle documentation: SC 360 MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT TO MARY ROBINSON, ?APRIL I5, 1796-MARCH 29, 1797
AL signed Mary Imlay, 1 page. Single sheet,4to (8.9 x 7.4 inches).
Laid paper. Watermark: [posthorn in crowned shield (upper portion)].
Notations, page 1:1. From the late Mrs Wollstoncraft/-Godwin - to/ Mrs Robinson 107/; 2. two erased pencil words; 3. (in pencil): Very rare./ Probably to "Perdita"./
Addition:narrow strip pasted on verso, right edge, indicating letter was once in scrapbook.

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Original publication date

1796 to 1797

Published @ RC

May 1998

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