Gilbert Imlay

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Gilbert Imlay (born February 9, 1754 - November 20, 1828 ) was an American officer, businessman, speculator and writer. He had a brief affair with Mary Wollstonecraft , who had written a fundamental book of the women's movement, Defense of Women's Rights (1792). A daughter emerged from the affair: Fanny Imlay did not grow up with her father, but was adopted by the social philosopher William Godwin after Mary Wollstonecraft's death .

Gilbert Imlay served as an officer on the American side in the war between the United States and Great Britain. After the war, he speculated in real estate in Kentucky. He cheated a number of his customers, including Daniel Boone , by reselling the land they had bought without ever providing the original sellers with the purchase price. In 1786 he went to Great Britain to avoid being stalked by his customers.

Gilbert Imlay's A Topographical Description of the Western Territory of North America was published in London in 1792. Later editions also included Daniel Boone's adventures. This appendix was authored by John Filson . With Mary Wollstonecraft's help, Gilbert Imlay also tried his hand at a novelist and published The Emigrants in 1793.

In 1793, during the French Revolution , he represented the United States in France in a consular capacity. In parallel, he continued to go about his own business. In Paris he first met Mary Wollstonecraft, with whom he soon had an affair. To protect her from the arrest the Convention ordered for all Englishmen living in France, Gilbert Imlay registered Mary Wollstonecraft as his wife at the US embassy. Shortly after the birth of Fanny Imlay, Gilbert Imlay left the two and moved to London. Mary Wollstonecraft followed him to London, where she found out, however, that Gilbert Imlay was now living with an actress.

Individual evidence

  1. Lucasta Miller, 'Rogue Trader', Times Literary Supplement 25 April 2008 p 24.
  2. ^ Jone Johnson Lewis: Mary Wollstonecraft: A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: overview of the life and work of England's early feminist, Mary Wollstonecraft . Retrieved July 23, 2007.


  • Faragher, John Mack. Daniel Boone: The Life and Legend of an American Pioneer . New York: Holt, 1992; ISBN 0-8050-1603-1 .
  • Verhoeven, Wil. Gilbert Imlay: Citizen of the World . London: Pickering & Chatto, 2008; ISBN 9781851968596 .