Friday, August 30, 2013

Mary Shelley

On August 30, 1797, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin was born.  She would go on to become better known as Mary Shelley, the English writer of the novel Frankenstein.  Her parents, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, were philosophers.

Her mother died when Mary was but eleven days old, leaving Mary and her half-sister to be raised by their father.  He encouraged his daughters to follow his liberal political theories through a rich but informal education.  This early background would influence Mary Shelley to remain a political radical for her entire life.

In 1814, Mary entered a romantic relationship with Percy Bysshe Shelley.  At this time, Percy was a married man.  But that didn't stop the couple from taking a European vacation.  When they returned home, Mary was pregnant.  She and Percy would marry in 1816, after Percy's first wife committed suicide.

The year 1816 would take the Shelley's on another vacation, this time near Geneva, Switzerland.  There, they spent the summer with Lord Byron, John William Polidori and Claire Clairmont.  While they vacationed, Lord Byron suggested that they each write a tale of the supernatural.  It wouldn't take long for the idea of Frankenstein to come to Mary.  When she began writing, she assumed it would be a short story.

Until the 1970s, Mary Shelley would be best known for her uber-famous novel and her efforts to publish her husband's works.  Now, scholars have shown an interest in Mary's other works, particularly her other novels.

The last ten years of Mary's life would be plagued by illness.  She died from a brain tumor on February 1, 1851 at the age of 53.  But I highly doubt that I am the only one that will be wishing her a happy birthday today! 


  1. I didn't know Frankenstein was written by a woman. How did the world take it? A horror story by a woman?

    1. Good question Mardra! I'm not entirely sure how the public saw the release of Mary Shelley's book. However, I do know that many female authors were starting to publish works at the time, trying to break into a male-dominated society.