Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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IMLAY, Gilbert, author, born in New Jersey about 1750. He was a captain in the American army during the Revolutionary war, and after its termination emigrated to Kentucky, where he was appointed a deputy surveyor under George May, at Louisville. Subsequently he went to Europe, and while in Paris lived unmarried, in mutual pledges of constancy, with Mary Wollstonecraft, the English author. Shortly before the birth of a child, Imlay deserted her, under pretext of being called to a distant country, Her plaintive letters to him were answered evasively, and, after an attempt at suicide, she turned again to literature for support, writing her " Letters from Sweden, Norway, and Denmark" (1796). She afterward married William Godwin, and a daughter, the fruit of this union, became the wife of Shelley, the poet. During his stay in Kentucky, Imlay wrote glowing descriptions of the country in a series of letters to a friend in England. These were revised and embodied in a volume styled " A Topographical Description of the Western Territory of North America" (London, 1792; enlarged ed., 1795; with supplement by John Filson, 2 vols., New York, 1793: 2d enlarged ed., London, 1797). Imlay was also the author of "The Emigrants, or the History of an Exiled Family," a novel (3 vols., London, 1793).
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