Eileen Hunt Botting (ed.), Portraits of Wollstonecraft, two volumes, Bloomsbury, May 2021
A major, and very expensive, reference work on Mary Wollstonecraft.
Mary Wollstonecraft’s watershed contribution to theories of women’s human rights and her international reception by both Western and non-Western intellectuals has ensured she continues to shape contemporary human rights debates around the world. Bringing together over 100 individual responses to Wollstonecraft’s life and work, Portraits of Wollstonecraft documents her international and cross-cultural reception from the late 18th-century to the early 21st-century.
Reflecting on over two centuries of responses to her political ideas, writing, and philosophy, it counters the persistent myth that she ceased to be read in the aftermath of the publication of her husband William Godwin’s scandalous posthumous Memoirs of her life in 1798. Beginning with her earliest portraiture and the first reviews of her published writings from the late 1780s, Volume I traces her emergence as an international public figure of women’s rights in her life, work, and philosophical, literary, and artistic reception throughout Britain, Ireland, Continental Europe, North and South America, and across the British Empire and its former colonies from Jamaica to India to South Africa. Volume II focuses on Wollstonecraft’s posthumous philosophical, literary, and artistic reception, especially within modern strands of feminism, by assembling responses from China, Japan, and South Korea as well as writing by Mary Shelley, Emma Goldman, Ruth Benedict, Virginia Woolf, Simone de Beauvoir, Betty Friedan, Susan Moller Okin, Barbara Johnson, Martha Nussbaum, and Amartya Sen that discusses her theories of virtue, love, gender, education, and rights.
Bringing to light many forgotten accounts and images of Wollstonecraft, pieces by major thinkers from across the history of philosophy, and 31 annotated illustrations showing her development into a feminist icon, Portraits of Wollstonecraft achieves what no other work on Wollstonecraft has yet to do. This comprehensive collection charts the depth and breadth of her legacies for philosophy, political theory, ethics, literature, art, and feminism on a global scale.