Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley

Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley is best known for her novel Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus. Shelley was born on August 30th, 1797 in London. Her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, a famed feminist sadly died of puerperal fever 10 days after giving birth to her daughter. Her father, William Godwin, was a philosopher and political journalist. Mary educated herself throughout much of her childhood through her fathers extensive library and she spent a lot of time in her father’s intellectual circle, which included Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth.
Her father was remarried in 1801 to Mary Jane Clairmont, who brought her own two children with her. Shelley never learned to like her stepmother. Her stepmother was jealous of the relationship that Mary had with her father and tried to keep them apart, also trying to keep Mary away from her books. Nonetheless, Mary was not discouraged, at age 14 she published her first poem titled Mounseer Nongtongpaw.
In 1812 Mary was sent to live in Scotland with William Baxter, an acquaintance of her Father. During this time Mary became very close to Baxter’s two daughters, Christina and Isabel. This experience was able to give her the family life that she did not have in London.
At the age of 16 she returned to London, where she was introduced to one of her father’s political followers the young Percy Bysshe Shelley. Mary began a romantic relationship with Percy despite the fact that he was still married to his first wife. The couple ran away to France to elope which caused tensions between Mary and her father.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Percy and Mary Shelley traveled Europe together for a time and after that they struggled financially. They also experienced the tragic loss of their first child in 1815 when Mary delivered a baby girl who only lived for a few days.
In 1816, the couple famously spent a summer with Lord Byron, John William Polidori, and Jane Clairmont near Geneva, Switzerland. This is where Mary conceived the idea for her novel Frankenstein after the group read a book of ghost stories on a rainy day and Lord Byron suggested that they all write their own horror stories.
Later on in the year of 1816, Mary’s half – sister Fanny committed suicide and so did Percy’s wife a short time later. Mary and Percy got married in December of 1816, and she published a travelogue of their escape to Europe titled History of a Six Weeks’ Tour (1817).
In 1818, Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus debuted as a new novel from an anonymous author. Many thought that Percy Shelley had written the book since he penned its introduction, but nonetheless it turned out to be a huge success.
At the age of 24, Mary Shelley became a widow after Percy passed away. During this time she wrote several more novels including, Valperga and The Last Man. She also spent a lot of her time promoting Percy’s poetry and making sure he would be remembered in literary history.
Sadly, Mary Shelley died of brain cancer on February 1, 1851, at the age of 53. Yet roughly a century after her passing, on her novels, Mathilde, was finally released in the 1950’s. However, Mary Shelley today is still mostly known for her classic tale of Frankenstein.



Mary Shelley Biography –
Picture of Percy Shelley –
Picture of Frankenstein book cover –
Frankenstein: The Story Itself
Frankenstein: Literary Influences and Reception