"On Fanny Godwin"
Her voice did quiver as we parted,
Yet knew I not that heart was broken
From which it came, and I departed
Heeding not the words then spoken.
This world is all too wide for thee.
Frances "Fanny" Imlay (14 May 1794 – 9 October 1816), also known as Fanny Godwin and Frances Wollstonecraft, was the illegitimate daughter of the British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and the American commercial speculator Gilbert Imlay. Fanny's mother wrote about her frequently in her later works, and Percy Bysshe Shelley composed a poem on her death. Fanny grew up in the household of Radical philosopher William Godwin, and her half-sister Mary later wrote Frankenstein and married Shelley, a leading Romantic poet. The Godwin and Shelley families have been the subject of intense academic and popular interest, which includes Fanny; although by the time of her suicide at the age of 22 she had not achieved anything of note.
Although Gilbert Imlay and Mary Wollstonecraft lived together happily for brief periods before and after the birth of Fanny, he left Wollstonecraft in France in the midst of the French Revolution. In an attempt to revive their relationship, Wollstonecraft travelled to Scandinavia on business for him, taking the one-year-old Fanny with her, but the affair never rekindled. After falling in love with and marrying the philosopher William Godwin, Wollstonecraft died soon after giving birth in 1797, leaving the three-year-old Fanny in the hands of Godwin, along with the newborn Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (the future author of Frankenstein).
Four years later, Godwin remarried and his new wife, Mary Jane Clairmont, brought two children of her own into the marriage, most significantly—from Fanny Imlay's and Mary Godwin's perspective—Claire Clairmont. Wollstonecraft's daughters resented the new Mrs Godwin and the attention she paid to her own daughter. The Godwin household became an increasingly uncomfortable place to live as tensions rose and debts mounted. The teenage Mary and Claire escaped by running off to the Continent with the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1814. Fanny, left behind, bore the brunt of her stepfather's anger. She became increasingly isolated from her family and committed suicide in 1816.
Famous quotes containing the word fanny:
“here in hell
Were drinking tea from a Grecian Urn long after
Your Paphian Fanny let tubercles quell
Ethereal passion: I know it by your laughter!”
—Allen Tate (18991979)