Original Research

'Whither am I wandering?' A journey into the Self – Mary Wollstonecraft’s travels in Scandinavia, 1795

M. Beard
Literator | Vol 25, No 1 | a246 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v25i1.246 | © 2004 M. Beard | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 July 2004 | Published: 31 July 2004

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M. Beard, Department of English, Rhodes University, South Africa

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To place the letters written by Mary Wollstonecraft from Scandinavia to her lover, Gilbert Imlay, besides the journal in epistolary form that she published on her return to England, is to discern something of the complexity of Wollstonecraft’s personality. The two sets of documents, each of distinctive interest, reveal by their juxtaposition the struggle of an intelligent woman to reconcile her feelings and her reason as she strives to pursue a trajectory towards the emotional and financial independence that she had claimed for women in her polemical work
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.

The comparison between the two sets of documents also demonstrates the ways in which the characteristics of the letter – its potentiality for immediacy, for the expression of the self and the emotions – are consciously shaped in the published Letters. Such strategies are designed for the perceived reader in each case: on the one hand, Imlay himself and, on the other, all those readers likely to purchase a work from the imprint of Joseph Johnson.


Epistolary Genre; Gender Studies; Travel Writing; Mary Wollstonecraft


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Crossref Citations

1. Mary Wollstonecraft’s Desire for Home and Frustration in Letters
Feminist Studies in English Literature  vol: 20  issue: 2  first page: 121  year: 2012  
doi: 10.15796/fsel.2012.20.2.006