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Mary Diana Dods, a Gentleman and a Scholar

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After more than seventeen years of extraordinary research, American University dean Betty T. Bennett--editor of three collections of the letters of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley--unraveled the 175-year-old mystery of Mary Diana Dods, gentleman and scholar. Photographs.


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After more than seventeen years of extraordinary research, American University dean Betty T. Bennett--editor of three collections of the letters of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley--unraveled the 175-year-old mystery of Mary Diana Dods, gentleman and scholar. Photographs.

41 review for Mary Diana Dods, a Gentleman and a Scholar

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ineke Kluft

    This a an amazing story, I read this book some 20 years ago and reread it this weekend. After seeing the movie The Invisible Woman by Ralph Fiennes I was looking for that wonderful book by my favorite biographist Claire Tomalin and came across this Betty T Bennett book. Ms Bennett searched the whole (Anglo-saxon) world wanting to know about David Lyndsay and Walter Sholto Douglas, friends of Mary Shelley. To keep it short: she finds out these two man are one person and he is a woman. Live was not This a an amazing story, I read this book some 20 years ago and reread it this weekend. After seeing the movie The Invisible Woman by Ralph Fiennes I was looking for that wonderful book by my favorite biographist Claire Tomalin and came across this Betty T Bennett book. Ms Bennett searched the whole (Anglo-saxon) world wanting to know about David Lyndsay and Walter Sholto Douglas, friends of Mary Shelley. To keep it short: she finds out these two man are one person and he is a woman. Live was not easy for a woman onhet own in the 19th century so why not let the world think you are a man? If you can get your hands on this book: please do read it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Robert burke

    Betty Bennett was a leading scholar of Mary Shelley. While getting Shelley's letters ready for publication, she came across the following names, David Lyndsay and Walter Sholto Douglas. The only thing known about them was David was a writer and Walter was the husband of Isabella Robinson Douglas, a friend of Mary Shelley. Betty Bennett decided to find out more about the two men. This would lead Her on a search to England, Scotland and France, to discover a deception that Mary Shelley herself was Betty Bennett was a leading scholar of Mary Shelley. While getting Shelley's letters ready for publication, she came across the following names, David Lyndsay and Walter Sholto Douglas. The only thing known about them was David was a writer and Walter was the husband of Isabella Robinson Douglas, a friend of Mary Shelley. Betty Bennett decided to find out more about the two men. This would lead Her on a search to England, Scotland and France, to discover a deception that Mary Shelley herself was part. This book takes you on a step by step journey to solve the mystery of two minor footnotes in literature and turning them into major players in the life of Mary Shelley.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Vasha7

    The story of an unusual 19th-century woman, who lived as a man for a time. She sounds like an interesting person but her story is ultimately quite sad.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jan Lynch

    The story of Mary Diana Dods is inherently interesting. The illegitimate daughter of a Scottish lord, Mary Diana Dods and her sister were raised in privilege, all of which disappeared when their father married. Dods and her sister were sent away from the family home and tightly leashed on a budget. Perhaps nothing too unusual. The story picks up more than a century later when Betty T. Bennett, a college professor at American University, finds in her research of Mary Shelley letters from an autho The story of Mary Diana Dods is inherently interesting. The illegitimate daughter of a Scottish lord, Mary Diana Dods and her sister were raised in privilege, all of which disappeared when their father married. Dods and her sister were sent away from the family home and tightly leashed on a budget. Perhaps nothing too unusual. The story picks up more than a century later when Betty T. Bennett, a college professor at American University, finds in her research of Mary Shelley letters from an author, David Lyndsay, and the husband of a friend, Walter Sholto Douglas. In trying to gain biographical information about these men, Bennett uncovers their secret identity: both men were Mary Diana Dods. While it was not surprising that a woman might write under the pen name of a man, that a woman passed herself off as a married man with a son is remarkable. Although the story itself interesting, the book overall was not compelling for me. Bennett's writing shines when she tells the story of her remarkable subjects, when she places them in a setting, and writes in narrative style. However, she does this in only a few sections of the book. The story of her sleuthing, really amazing persistence and insight, is not told as engagingly. And while her commentary is interesting, by the end of the book, her insights feel repetitious. All of that said, the story of Mary Diana Dods is worth knowing, and Bennett as the dedicated detective behind the story deserves much credit for bringing it to light.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lisa M.

    Betty T. Bennett is very passionate about Mary Shelley. While arranging a collection of her letters, Bennett discovered a strange cast of characters. She doesn't understand why she can't track the lives of two of Shelley's associates: Walter Sholto Douglas, and David Lyndsay. Who were these men? Bennett's determination to fully document Shelley's life unearths a mystery that is 150 years old, and has gone undocumented. These two men, were, in fact, one woman: Mary Diana Dods. After tireless effor Betty T. Bennett is very passionate about Mary Shelley. While arranging a collection of her letters, Bennett discovered a strange cast of characters. She doesn't understand why she can't track the lives of two of Shelley's associates: Walter Sholto Douglas, and David Lyndsay. Who were these men? Bennett's determination to fully document Shelley's life unearths a mystery that is 150 years old, and has gone undocumented. These two men, were, in fact, one woman: Mary Diana Dods. After tireless efforts to unearth all of the information about Mary Diana Dods and the other players in her charade, Bennett explores possible motives for her actions. Bennett fully understands and portrays how gender and sexuality were conceived in Dods' time period - she does not simplify this case by forcing it into a modern box. Bennett tentatively explores all of the options. Was Dods intersex, transgender, a cross-dresser, a lesbian, or someone who merely sought out an identity? If a lesbian, was there a sexual component to this part of her identity? Or like many other women of her time, did she connect with other women on an emotional level? We will probably never know Dods' full motives. Perhaps Dods didn't know either. But Bennett has certainly researched throughly and presented all of the evidence available. At the end of the day, this story is shocking and moving. I felt terrible for Mary Shelley; she was taken advantage of by many people around her, especially after her husband died. I felt bad for Mary Diana Dods, who was born of nobility but struggled to live in poverty. It was difficult to empathize with the third player, Isabella Robinson Douglas, who came off as very manipulative. But in the end, we learn that even she had a justifiable motive for her actions. All three women struggled in a society that had rigid gender roles that they were not fulfilled by. In this story, they attempt to break out of those shells and find something more.

  6. 4 out of 5

    humanalias

  7. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  8. 4 out of 5

    Christine Prevas

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gillian Wiseman

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cara Dalton

  11. 4 out of 5

    Molly

  12. 5 out of 5

    Carina

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tina

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mary

  15. 5 out of 5

    Karen

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amy

  17. 4 out of 5

    Magpie

  18. 4 out of 5

    Katie

  19. 5 out of 5

    Denise

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Campbell-williams

  21. 4 out of 5

    AM dial

  22. 4 out of 5

    Fiona

  23. 4 out of 5

    wtxch

  24. 4 out of 5

    Maja

  25. 4 out of 5

    Leah

  26. 5 out of 5

    Khat

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cathleen

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jaclyn Shepherd

  29. 5 out of 5

    Maxine

  30. 4 out of 5

    Hadia Butari

  31. 5 out of 5

    Cante Tenza Win Goodface

  32. 4 out of 5

    Akiva

  33. 4 out of 5

    Eric

  34. 4 out of 5

    Chandler

  35. 5 out of 5

    Arthur

  36. 5 out of 5

    Kam

  37. 5 out of 5

    Patris

  38. 4 out of 5

    Jalehn Moses

  39. 5 out of 5

    Emmakhill

  40. 5 out of 5

    E.G. Jönsson

  41. 5 out of 5

    Jackson Bird

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