Mother Loss, a new play by Maura Louge of Dark Daughter Productions, explores the life of Mary Wollstonecraft and the lives of her two daughters Mary Shelley and Fanny Imlay.
Mary Wollstonecraft was born in 27 April, 1759 in London into an Anglo-Irish family. The second of seven children, her childhood was tainted with abuse by her violent father. At the age of 19 and after the death of her mother, Mary left home to earn her own livelihood. She established a school in Newington Green with her best friend Fanny and her sister Eliza. From her experiences teaching, Wollstonecraft wrote the pamphlet Thoughts on the Education of Daughters (1787). After the death of Fanny, the mourning Mary worked as a governess for the Kingsborough family in Ireland for three years. Three laters, she returned London and became a translator and an adviser to Joseph Johnson, a noted publisher of radical texts. Johnson launched the Analytical Review in 1788 and Mary became a regular contributor. She published her most famous work, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman in 1792. In the work, she clearly abhors prevailing notions that women are helpless adornments of a household. Instead, she states that society breeds “gentle domestic brutes” and that a confined existence makes women frustrated and transforms them into tyrants over their children and servants. The key, she purports, is educational reform, giving women access to the same educational opportunities as men. In her book Maria, or the Wrongs of Woman, she asserted that women had strong sexual desires and that it was degrading and immoral to pretend otherwise.
Mary met Captain Gilbert Imlay in France in 1792 and after a whirlwind romance, gave birth to their daughter Fanny. During their time together, Mary wrote An Historical and Moral View of the Origin and Progress of the French Revolution and Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway and Denmark. After their travels in Scandinavia, Gilbert left Mary.
Mary recovered, finding new hope in a relationship with William Godwin, the founder of philosophical anarchism. Despite their belief in the tyranny of marriage, the couple eventually wed due to her pregnancy. In 1797, their daughter Mary (author of Frankenstein) was born. Ten days later, due to complications of childbirth, Wollstonecraft died. She left behind two daughters who both made their own uniquely different marks on the world.
The Inspiration for Mother Loss
Mother Loss explores Mary Wollstonecraft meeting her daughters in a place, beyond time and earthly bounds. The losses and the hardships these women endured in their private lives, with stoic and singular resolve, in a time of inequality and bondage, are explored in this intimate new play by Maura Louge. Maura’s work revolves around the Public Versus the Private Personae of strong and sometimes forgotten women of history. She especially has an interest in those women with a North West of Ireland connection. Mary Wollstonecraft grandmother was Elizabeth Dixon of Ballyshannon. In her research for Mother Loss the tragic story of Fanny Imlay Goodwin stole her heart.
It will be performed in The Glens Centre at 8.30pm on Friday the 2 June. Tickets are €12/15. Buy tickets here!