Mary and Frances Wright connect--but what did Wright want from her?
And just what did Fanny Wright write to Mary Shelley on August 22, 1827? She addressed Mary (whom she’d not met) as the daughter of your father and mother (known to me only by their works and opinions) and the friend and companion of a man distinguished not by genius merely, but, as I imagine, by the strength of his opinions and his fearlessness in their expression [Bysshe!]. These associations alone, wrote Fanny, make of Mary an object of interest, and—permit the word, for I use it in o vulgar sense—of curiosity.
Throughout her post-Frankenstein life, Mary would often receive such letters, letters written by admirers of her parents (Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin), of her husband (Percy Bysshe Shelley), admirers who were hopeful--maybe even confident--that Mary surely would support the leftist, even radical, causes that her parents had written about (and practiced). I mean, it just makes sense, doesn't it?
Fanny write made this very explicit in her letter: She said that she assumed from these relationships—and from Mary’s own writing—that you [Mary] share at once the sentiments and talents of those from whom you drew your being. And if so, she wrote, that was enough to make her wish to travel far to see you. And then Fanny went on to explain some details about her endeavour to undermine the slavery of colour existing in the North American Republic.
And just what was that plan? And what did Fanny want (hope for) from Mary? Well, it was a bold, humanistic plan—a plan to begin the end of American slavery—and she elicited help and support from Robert Dale Owen (whose father, recall, along with Robert Dale himself, had begun New Harmony, the utopian community in Indiana) and from Lafayette (yes, that Lafayette, who’d been an important factor in our American Revolution half a lifetime earlier). Lafayette had enjoyed, and the invitation of President James Monroe and Congress, an elaborate tour of the former colonies from 1824–1825. And Fanny Wright was then in America, promoting her anti-slavery program.