Thursday 29th September 2022


7-8.30pm BST
Shortly after a suicide attempt in 1795, feminist pioneer Mary Wollstonecraft set off on a journey around Sweden, Norway and Denmark with her infant daughter, ostensibly to recover a lost ship on her lover Gilbert Imlay’s directions. The following year, radical publisher Joseph Johnson published her account of her travels: Letters Written in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. It is the last work by Wollstonecraft published within her lifetime.
In the first of five digital conversations on the legacies of the extraordinary women who feature in Chawton House’s ‘Trailblazers’ exhibition, we talk to two women who have followed in Mary Wollstonecraft’s footsteps and documented their own creative responses to this journey.
220 years after Wollstonecraft, in 2015 author Bee Rowlatt took her toddler and followed Wollstonecraft on her travels, including her Scandinavian route. She will discuss her 2016 book In Search of Mary: The Mother of all Journeys (Alma Books), experiencing the sites Wollstonecraft visited, and reflecting on how travelling with a child raises questions about balancing art, careers, and motherhood. Swedish artist Åsa Elzén will discuss her 2012 mixed media project ‘Mary Wollstonecraft’s Scandinavian journey 1795 re-traced’. In her book, Who Fooled Whom?, Elzén brings together 28 different accounts of the actual reason for Wollstonecraft’s journey – her search for a ship with a silver cargo, and her possible involvement in a smuggling affair. We will give the UK premiere of Elzén’s short film, The Glade I. Combining voice-over with visuals shot in Norway, The Glade I takes Wollstonecraft’s visit to a small hut standing in a glade in the Bogstad Estate, outside of Oslo, as an entry point into two different versions of the past, reading Wollstonecraft’s work in the context of Scandinavian history.
About the Speakers: 

The Glade I

Åsa Elzén is an artist living and working in Näshulta, Sörmland, Sweden. Her practice is transdisciplinary and often manifests through installation, text, textile, video, performance and participatory situations. Her work has been shown at a.o. Accelerator, SU, Stockholm; Sörmlands museum, Nyköping; Tensta konsthall, Stockholm; Part of the Labyrinth, GIBCA 10; Eskilstuna Konstmuseum; Moderna museet, Stockholm; Iaspis, Stockholm; The Power Plant, Toronto; uqbar, Berlin; HKW, Berlin; KV Leipzig; Artspace, New Haven CT; Pratt Manhattan Gallery, NYC; Brooklyn Museum, NYC; CCBard Hessel Museum of Art, NY; Gwangju Biennale and Bie biennal 2016 + 2018.  She teaches regularly and is currently Supervisor at Artistic PhD education, Stockholm University of the Arts and board member of The Seedbox, Linköping University. Åsa studied at NCAD, Dublin; The Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm and Whitney ISP, NYC.

Bee Rowlatt, writer and journalist, is VOGUE India’s “latest girl crush and undeniable star of the show.” Her book In Search of Mary, inspired by the life of Mary Wollstonecraft, won the UK’s “Real Life Reads” 2016 and made the Independent’s Best Biographies list. It was featured on BBC Meet the Author, PRI’s The World, and described by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen as “terrific – quite unlike anything I’ve read before.” Bee co-wrote the best-selling Talking about Jane Austen in Baghdad and is one of the writers in Virago’s Fifty Shades of Feminism. Public speaking appearances include Jaipur Litfest, Edinburgh Festival, Southbank Women of the World festival, Hay Festival, and British Council literary events in Iraq, Norway, India, Mexico, Russia and Palestine. Bee chaired the Mary on the Green campaign, which successfully memorialised Wollstonecraft with a statue designed by artist Maggi Hambling, and is a founding Trustee of the human rights education charity the Wollstonecraft Society. You can find Bee on Twitter @BeeRowlatt

Tickets: £5

All proceeds from this event go towards our campaign to acquire Wollstonecraft’s Posthumous Works. 

This is an online event. Ticket holders will be emailed links on the day of the event. The event will be recorded for ticket holders who cannot join live. The Q&A will not be recorded.

If you do not receive joining details by midday (UK time) on the day of the event, please email with your order number.