About the Author

Posted: April 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

Born in Somers Town, London, Mary Shelley was the daughter of two remarkable individuals, that Mary acknowledges as “persons of distinguished literary celebrity”, novelist William Godwin, and writer Mary Wollstonecraft. She recalls a pleasant childhood, in the country. Her favorite pastime was to write, and form a “succession of imaginary incidents.” (1)

In spite of her father’s disapproval, Mary (then Mary Godwin) began to see Percy Shelley in secret. In her mind’s eye, Percy Shelley was the embodiment of her parents philosophies (2). According to Mary, it was Percy who encouraged her “obtain a literary reputation” of her own, and prove herself “worthy” of her parentage (1).

A review of the book, Mary Shelley, by Elizabeth Nitchie, gives some insight at what might have been her true portrait. May Shelley was believed to be reserved, and as a result, finding intimacy in human relationships became difficult for her. Writing, is argued to be her means of expressing her repressed passions (3). In the introduction to  Frankenstein, she writes, “… I was not confined to my own identity, and I could people the hours with creations far more interesting to me at that age, than my own sensations.” (1)

In the summer of 1816, the pair visited Lord Byron in Switzerland. The guests of Lord Byron, confined to the grounds by rain, read to a series of ghost stories. Afterwards, Lord Byron proposed to his guests, “We will each write a ghost story.” Mary claims, that after listening to Byron and Shelley exchange philosophies, her imagination ran wild. She was possessed by the image of a student kneeling beside a monstrosity he had put together, and even worse, stirring with life. After sharing her short tale, Percy encouraged her to expand the idea further (1).

Contemporary critics of Mary Shelley, more specifically, Frankenstein, felt the novel was exaggerated and an outrageous improbability. They find many faults with the novel, citing the “imperfection of an unpracticed hand.” Some even go as far as saying that, “it is one of those works, however, which, when we have read, we do not well see why it should have been written.” (4)

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