Throughout 1840–41 Mary continued her adult-long habits of reading and scholarship, visiting with literary friends, yearning, wishing things could have been different. On June 17, 1841, her stepmother, Mary Jane Godwin, died. There is no mention of it in Mary’s journal (there is very little journal material remaining from these years), but in a letter to publisher Edward Moxon on June 28, she wrote only these words about it: poor M Godwin’s death, but there is more in a later letter to Elizabeth Berry, a Wollstonecraft cousin living in Australia:
Last summer my father’s widow died, she wrote on January 14, 1842, after a lingering illness—Poor M Godwin! It seemed strange that so restless a spirit could be hushed, & all that remained pent up in a grave.
Mary and her stepmother had never been close, though Mary had done her duty, attending to Mary Jane later on—never a pleasant task for her. And, as I’ve written earlier, she was interred beneath the headstone for William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft in the St. Pancras Churchyard in London. But now—as we’ll see—she lies there alone. Only the names of the other two remain.
*You need to enlarge the photos to see the fading names.