Mary Shelley

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Updated On January 3, 2022
Somers Town, London
Birth Sign
Somers Town, London

Mary Shelley was an English novelist known for her fantastical writing and gruesome themes in her works. She was born to literary and political activists Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin. Her mother was a feminist and author of “A Vindication of Woman’s Rights.” Mary did not benefit from her mother’s knowledge because she died shortly after Mary’s birth. Mary had to go through a lot of emotional anguish after her father remarried, forcing her to deal with an unkind stepmother. She learned to cope with the upheaval, though, by writing and spending time in her imagination. This assisted her in overcoming mental tension as well as enhancing her creativity, which aided her in her profession as a fictitious author. Although this writer lacked a formal education, he was lucky enough to live among literary giants such as Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, and P. B. Shelley. Her first work, ‘Frankenstein,’ is considered one of the most well-known horror stories of all time. Her narrator’s voice and thorough descriptions frequently capture the interest of the audience. She is also recognized with developing some of fiction’s most well-known ghostly figures.

Childhood and Adolescence

Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin was born on August 30, 1797, in Somers Town, London, to William Godwin, a writer and philosopher, and Mary Wollstonecraft. She had a half-sister named Fanny Imlay, and after their mother died, William Godwin reared them.
Her father afterwards married Mary Jane Clairmont, who was rumored to be biased. She was not a supporter of Mary’s schooling. Shelley, on the other hand, was able to educate herself informally using the volumes in her father’s library.

Career of Mary Shelley

She also had the chance to meet literary giants such as William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who came to Godwin’s house as a youngster. When she needed to get away from the rush and bustle of life, she turned to writing. ‘Mounseer Nongtongpaw,’ her debut poem, was published in 1808.
She went to her father’s friend William Baxter’s house in Scotland in 1812 and experienced a homey atmosphere she had never felt before. The following year, she returned to his home.
In 1816, while on vacation in Geneva, Switzerland, Mary Shelley was inspired by the companionship of Lord Byron and Polidori and began writing her first novel, ‘Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus.’
This author published a travelogue titled ‘History of a Six Weeks Tour’ in 1817 based on her trip to Europe. She continued to work on her horror novel at the same time.
In 1818, the novel ‘Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus’ was released. Despite the fact that it was Mary Shelley’s novel, readers mistook it for her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley’s work because the novel’s preface was written by him. The work quickly became a best-seller after its publication. The Shelleys visited Italy in the same year.
She returned to England after her husband’s terrible death and began writing to support herself. Her historical novel ‘Valperga: or, the Life and Adventures of Castruccio, Prince of Lucca’ was published in 1823.
She wrote the apocalyptic science fiction novel ‘The Last Man’ in 1826. ‘The Fortunes of Perkin Warbeck: A Romance,’ ‘Lodore,’ and ‘Falkner’ were among her other works.
She went so far as to defend and support her husband’s literary works and standing in the literary world. Mary Shelley published ‘Posthumous Poems of Percy Bysshe Shelley’ and ‘The Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley’ after her husband P. B. Shelley died.
This author also contributed to magazines such as ‘The Westminster Review’ and ‘The Keepsake.’ ‘Rambles through Germany and Italy,’ her travelogue, was published in 1844. Her second novel, ‘Mathilda,’ was released posthumously in 1959, nearly a century after she died. Themes of suicide and incest are explored in this novel.

Major Projects of Mary Shelley

Her debut novel was a huge success right after it was released. It is still considered a classic literary work. This novel has been adapted for theatre and screen numerous times.
‘The Last Man’ and ‘Mathilda,’ two of her other novels, are also considered literary classics. Her works all deal with distinct themes and have been hailed as excellent literary works by many.

Personal History and Legacy

Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelley, a writer, began dating in 1814, when Percy Bysshe Shelley was already married to Harriet. Godwin did not approve of Mary and Percy’s relationship, so the couple, together with Mary’s half-sister Claire Clairmont, departed to France.
The couple ran into numerous issues, including financial troubles that prompted them to return to England. Mary was already pregnant with Percy Bysshe Shelley’s kid when they arrived to England. Their child was born in 1815, but he did not live long. They traveled to Geneva with Claire Clairmont the following year, and were joined by Lord Byron and Polidori for their vacation in Geneva.
Mary was devastated by the loss of her half-sister Fanny in 1816, and Percy’s wife Harriet committed suicide the following year.
Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelley married in December 1816. The couple’s existence, however, was not simple because it was marred by tragedy.
Three of their children died in infancy, and Percy Florence, the fourth, was the only one to live to adulthood. When Mary’s husband, P. B. Shelley, died tragically in 1822, she was dealt yet another blow. After a long illness, this author passed away on the 1st of February 1851 at Chester Square. According to the physicians, she was suffering from a brain tumor. St. Peter’s church in Bournemouth, England, is where she is laid to rest.


Her novel ‘Frankenstein’ has been adapted into a number of films, including Robert De Niro and Kenneth Branagh’s ‘Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,’ which was released in 1994.