Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Brave Woman There Was...

Next week sees another intimate gathering, drawing on the life and works of Mary Wollstonecraft. Truly, London is overflowing with remembrances. Again, three performers; again, words and music; again, a Camden library. But all else is different.

This is billed as "an encounter with Mary Wollstonecraft":
The show has three phases. First you will hear extracts from the Original Stories for Children and meet one of the great, though lesser known, characters of English literature, Mrs Mason. 
Hooray for this long-lived Lost Daughter, who started life as Margaret King, Mary's doubly rebellious charge during that dire year of governessing.
The scene then moves to Paris, during Mary’s stay in France, and introduces you to another outstanding, though perhaps less widely known, feminist writer, Olympe de Gouges.  
Ah yes, Mary in France. Tumultuous years. Did these two ever meet? There is every reason to hope so - certainly they moved in overlapping circles - but, as far as I know, no hard evidence. If this encounter did take place, it must have been in the first half of 1793; Wollstonecraft left Paris in June for a few months, and de Gouges was arrested in August, I believe. 
Finally we see Mary at her birthday tea, formulating ideas for her “Vindication of the Rights of Woman”, despite some hindrance from a male visitor. 
And who might that be, I wonder? Talleyrand or Godwin? Either way, I expect they get served wine in a chipped teacup.
Nearly all the script consists of the words actually written by the two women, but presented in dramatic form. 
That is much the same approach as last month's The Two Marys: A Conversation Piece, also at a Camden library. The borough has a claim on her (via The Polygon, within Somers Town, and St Pancras). 
Most of the music dates from the period.
Just like the birthday concert!

I'm not sure whether Mary Wollstonecraft spent much time in Highate, then a village as distant from London as Newington Green, and more difficult to get to, in that the muddy hills were worse. Still, in the years since then the good burghers of Highgate have taken advantage of Mr Macadam's tar, and the roads are quite passable these days.

If you are free next Thursday, why not visit Highgate Library? 18 April, 7:15 for 7:30pm.

Photo by Justinc. Used under the 
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic licence.

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