‘We did not marry’: the Comedy and Tragedy of Marriage in Life and Fiction

  • Caroline Franklin
Part of the Literary Lives book series (LL)


When she returned to London, Wollstonecraft found herself the figure-head of a circle of liberal women writers, all of whom were inspired to some degree by her revolutionary ideas and by her attempts to act on them in life. Two former actresses and established professional writers, the poet and novelist Mary Robinson and playwright and novelist Elizabeth Inchbald specialized in staging gender. The scandalous Robinson teased the public’s fascination with her identity as the Prince Regent’s ex-mistress by using various pseudonymous personae to correspond in verse with readers of the periodicals. The resolutely respectable Inchbald, author of A Simple Story (1791), was a pioneer in converting elements of stage melodrama into the ‘Jacobin’ novel of social protest. Inchbald socialized with the Siddons/Kemble theatrical circle, and the radical playwright Thomas Holcroft and his friend the anarchist philosopher William Godwin. The latter had become the chief spokesman for political radicalism in literary London after the publication firstly of his Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793) which demolished the moral basis of all governmental institutions, and secondly of his exciting novel of pursuit, Caleb Williams (1794), which targeted the justice system. The group read and commented on each other’s work in progress with conscientious candour.


Sexual Desire Romantic Love Sexual Double Standard Unmarried Mother Sexual Slavery 
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Copyright information

© Caroline Franklin 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caroline Franklin
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WalesSwanseaUK

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