The Biography of Mary Shelley, who was a renowned English writer, best known for her masterpiece novel “Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus,” which remains a cornerstone of the horror and science fiction genre today.
Born on August 30, 1797, in London, Mary Shelley was the daughter of two well-known intellectuals, William Godwin, a philosopher, and Mary Wollstonecraft, a feminist writer.
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Early Life and Education of Mary Shelley
Mary’s mother passed away just ten days after her birth, leaving her father to raise her.
William Godwin greatly influenced his time, and Mary grew up in a household full of writers, poets, and thinkers.
Mary had an insatiable thirst for knowledge, and her father was more than willing to indulge her curiosity.
She read extensively, and by the time she was ten years old, she had read the works of Homer, Shakespeare, Milton, and other literary giants.
At sixteen, Mary met Percy Bysshe Shelley, a radical poet who was already married.
Despite their age difference and Shelley’s marital status, they fell in love and eloped to Europe in 1814.
Their relationship was scandalous, and they were ostracized by society. But Mary and Shelley were undeterred, and they continued to travel throughout Europe, immersing themselves in the literary and intellectual circles of the time.
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During one of their trips to Switzerland in the summer of 1816, Mary and Shelley, along with their friends Lord Byron and John Polidori, decided to have a ghost story contest.
During this contest, Mary conceived the idea for her most famous work, “Frankenstein.”
The novel was published anonymously in 1818 and was an instant success.
The novel explores themes of creation, ambition, and the limits of human knowledge, and it remains a classic.
Mary’s writing career did not end with “Frankenstein.” She continued to write and publish novels, short stories, and essays.
Some of her other notable works include “The Last Man,” “Valperga,” “Lodore,” and “Perkin Warbeck.”
Although she was not as successful as “Frankenstein,” her works explored essential themes such as gender, politics, and social justice.
Personal Life and Tragedies
Mary Shelley’s life was not without its share of tragedies. She lost three of her four children, with only her son Percy Florence Shelley surviving into adulthood.
Her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, died in a boating accident in 1822, leaving Mary a widow at 24. Mary struggled with grief and depression for many years after Percy’s death.
Mary’s relationship with her father was also strained. William Godwin disapproved of her relationship with Percy Shelley and never fully accepted her marriage.
He was also critical of her writing, which led to a rift in their relationship that was never fully healed.
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Legacy of Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley’s legacy inspires writers, scholars, and readers today.
Her novel “Frankenstein” has been adapted into countless films, television shows, and plays, and it remains a cultural touchstone for discussions on ethics, science, and society.
Mary’s exploration of gender and politics in her writing has also been the subject of much scholarly attention, and she is often considered a pioneering feminist writer.
There has been a renewed interest in Mary Shelley’s life and work in recent years.
Biographies, films, and podcasts have explored the complexities of her relationships, her struggles with grief and depression, and her contributions to literature and culture.
Mary Shelley’s legacy is a testament to the power of storytelling and the enduring appeal of her unique perspective on the world.