Mary Jane Godwin aka Clairmont

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Mary Jane Vial Godwin (DeViall)

Also Known As: "Mrs. Clairmont", "Mary Jane Claremont; Mrs St. Julian"
Birthdate:
Death: (Date and location unknown)
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Peter DeViall and Mary Tremblatt
Wife of William Godwin
Partner of Sir John Lethbridge, 1st Baronet and Charles Abram Marc Gaulis aka "Charles Clairmont"
Mother of Claire Clairmont and Charles Clairmont
Sister of Sophie DeVial Pilcher

Managed by: Private User
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About Mary Jane Godwin aka Clairmont

Clara Mary Jane Clairmont aka Claire Clairmont was born in 1798 in Brislington, near Bristol, the second child and only daughter of Mary Jane Vial Clairmont. Throughout her childhood, she was known as "Jane". In 2010 the identity of her father was discovered as John Lethbridge (1746-1815) (later after 1804 Sir John Lethbridge, 1st Baronet) of Sandhill Park, near Taunton in Somerset.[1] Her mother had identified him as a "Charles Clairmont", adopting the name Clairmont for herself and her children, to disguise their illegitimacy. It appears that the father of her first child, Charles, was Charles Abram Marc Gaulis, "a merchant and member of a prominent Swiss family, whom she met in Cadiz".[2]

When she was three years old, Clairmont acquired a stepfamily. In December 1801, her mother married a neighbour, William Godwin, the writer and philosopher. This brought the toddler two stepsisters: Godwin's daughter, Mary (later Mary Shelley), only eight months older than she, and his stepdaughter, Fanny Imlay, a couple of years older. Both of them were the children of Mary Wollstonecraft, who had died some four years previously, but whose presence continued to be felt in the household. The family was completed with the birth of a boy to Mary Jane and William, giving Clairmont a younger brother.

All of the children were influenced by Godwin's radical anarchist philosophical beliefs. Both parents were well-educated and they co-wrote children's primers on Biblical and classical history. Godwin encouraged all of his children to read widely and give lectures from early childhood.[3]

Mary Jane was a sharp-tongued woman who often quarrelled with Godwin and favoured her own children over her husband's daughters. She contrived to send the volatile and emotionally intense Clairmont to boarding school for a time, thus providing her with more formal education than her stepsisters. Clairmont, unlike Mary Shelley, was fluent in French when she was a teenager and later was credited with fluency in five different languages. However, the girls grew close and remained in contact for the rest of their lives.

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Mary Jane Godwin aka Clairmont's Timeline

1798
April 27, 1798
Brislington, Somerset, England
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