Bennett, Betty T. 1935(?)-2006

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Bennett, Betty T. 1935(?)-2006


See index for CA sketch: Born c. 1935; died of lung cancer, August 12, 2006, in Washington, DC. Educator and author. A professor of English at American University, Bennett was a widely acclaimed authority on the works and life of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. A Brooklyn native, she completed her undergraduate work at the Brooklyn College of the City University of New York in 1962; she then earned an M.A. in 1963 and a Ph.D. in 1970 from New York University. That year she began her academic career as an assistant professor at the Stony Brook campus of the State University of New York, where she taught until joining the Pratt Institute in 1979. There she served as acting provost and dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences at from 1979 to 1985. Bennett then joined the faculty at American University in Washington, DC, and served again as the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences dean for twelve years. As a scholar, Bennett specialized in the Romantic period, Gothic literature, and women writers of the nineteenth century. Her interest in the widow of Percy Bysshe Shelley dated back to the 1970s, and her first major accomplishment on the author of Frankenstein was a three-volume edition of correspondence, The Letters of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1980, 1983, 1988), which was critically praised for its erudition and thorough research. She would go on to edit or coedit such works as Selected Letters of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1995) and Mary Shelley in Her Times (2000). She also wrote Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley: An Introduction (1998) and a 1988 play adaptation of Frankenstein that debuted at American University. Bennett's goals in researching and writing about Mary Shelley were to increase awareness of the writer and dispel some inaccurate images of her, whom Bennett found to be much more complex and daring than usually portrayed. Named distinguished professor of literature in 1997, Bennett also wrote other scholarly texts, such as British War Poetry in the Age of Romanticism, 1793-1815 (1976), The Critical Temper (1978), and Mary Diana Dods: A Gentleman and a Scholar (1991). At the time of her death, she had just completed writing a new literary biography on Shelley for Harvard University Press.



Chicago Tribune, August 26, 2006, section 2, p. 11.

Washington Post, August 24, 2006, p. B6.

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Bennett, Betty T. 1935(?)-2006

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