Mary Shelley

British writer (1797–1851)

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (30 August 1797 – 1 February 1851) was an English writer. She is best known for writing the novel Frankenstein. She was in her teens when she wrote the book. She later edited the poems of her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Mary Shelley. This painting was made in 1840

Early life


After her mother's death, Shelley lived with her older half-sister Fanny Imlay and their father. Fanny Imlay was Wollstonecraft's daughter from an affair she had with a soldier. Shelley's father married Mary Jane Clairmont in 1801. Clairmont already had two children and later had a son with Shelley's father. During that time, Shelleys's stepmother thought Shelley did not need be educated. Shelley did not give up because of that. She used her father's library and was often found reading by her mother's grave. Shelley's father often had visitors like Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth. She used those times to learn from them.[1]

During May 1816, Mary and her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley traveled to Lake Geneva. They spent the summer near the famous poet Lord Byron. In terms of English literature, it was a great summer. Percy began work on "Hymn To Intellectual Beauty" and "Mont Blanc". Mary was inspired to write her classic work.



One evening, the group of young writers decided to have a contest telling horror stories. Another guest, Dr. Oliver Polidori, came up with The Vampyre. This later had a strong influence on Bram Stoker's Dracula. Other guests told scary stories, but Mary could not think of one. But that night, she dreamt of the story she had wanted to tell. She wrote it down, and in time, her story would be published as Frankenstein. It became more successful than any of the other writings produced that summer.

The year she published "The Modern Prometheus", known as Frankenstein was 1818. Mary was only 20 years-old. It is sometimes called the world's first science fiction novel. The ideas for both "Frankenstein" and Polidori's "The Vampyre" were from the famous poet, Lord Byron. The books "Frankenstein" and "The Vampyre" were both published on the same year. Once Mary Shelley published Frankenstein, her life became more interesting[2]

Mary had many different sources for her work; one was the Promethean myth from Ovid. The influence of John Milton's Paradise Lost (the book the 'monster' finds in the cabin) is also seen in the novel. Also, she had read William Beckford's Vathek.

Marriage and Family Life

Reginald Easton painted this miniature portrait of Mary Shelley

In Mary Shelley's life, her romances led her father to disown her. When she was sixteen, Shelley met Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was 22 at the time. They both fell in love and ran away in 1814. By the time they returned to England, Mary was pregnant and her father wanted nothing to do with her.[3] Returning to England in September 1816, Mary and Shelley stunned their two families. First, in November, Mary's older half-sister, Fanny Imlay, left the Godwin home and took her own life at a distant inn. Only weeks later, Shelley's first wife drowned herself in Hyde Park, London. She did not welcome Shelley's invitation to join Mary and himself in their new household.

Shortly after Harriet's death, Shelley and Mary married, now with Godwin's blessing. Their attempts to gain custody of Shelley's two children by Harriet failed. Even though this happened, their writing careers enjoyed more success. In the spring of 1817, Mary finished Frankenstein. Mary had two sons and a daughter. The daughter died in infancy and the elder son when he was two.[4] Mary and Percy were both vegetarians, and strong advocates for animal rights. One can see references to vegetarianism in her writing. For example, in her novel Frankenstein, the 'monster' was a vegetarian. After Percy's death in 1822, she returned to England to finish Shelley's writings and educate their only surviving child.

End Of Life


Mary Shelley died of brain cancer on February 1, 1851 in London. Her body was buried at St. Peter's Churchyard in Bournemouth, in the English county of Dorset.


Four films have shown Mary Shelley, and the basic idea of the Frankenstein story in 1816: Gothic directed by Ken Russell (1986), Haunted Summer directed by Ivan Passer (1988), Remando al Viento (English title: Rowing with the Wind) directed by Gonzalo Suárez (1988) and Mary Shelley directed by Haifaa al-Mansour (2017)


  1. "Mary Shelley". Biography. Retrieved 2019-05-13.
  2. "Frankenstein published". HISTORY. Retrieved 2019-05-13.
  3. "Why "Frankenstein" Author Mary Shelley's Life Was Darker Than Her Fiction". All That's Interesting. 2016-08-30. Retrieved 2019-05-13.
  4. "Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley | British author". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2019-04-29.

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