Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

       In 1797 an event occurred that no one person could ever fathom. The literary superstars, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, gave birth to a literary protégé that would think up what might be the most iconic monster in society. Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin was born in August of 1797. Sadly, however, her mother, the feminist philosopher, Mary Wollstonecraft did not live on to see her daughter’s work. She died eleven short days after giving birth to Mary and Her father, William, stepped in to raise her. Mary, along with her half-sister Fanny Imlay, while under William’s care, were taught to write and were prompted to write at an early age. As Mary graduated from childhood and entered into a world of adolescence, her love of writing prospered. She wrote several short stories and novels. Mary went off to University and came home a woman.

     A friend of Godwin’s, Percy Shelley, was in town visiting when he first laid eyes on Mary. It was love at first sight and they longed to be with each other. This would prove to be a scandalous fate, due to the fact that Percy was already married and his wife was carrying his unborn child. Mary and Percy’s love could not be hindered and ran away together. Mary and Percy came back from their rendezvous in France with a “souvenir.” Unfortunately, the baby was born prematurely and died. To get away from memories, Mary and Shelley traveled to France in the summer of 1816, to visit her stepsister, Clair Clairmont and her lover at the time, Lord Byron. They were confined to the house, on account of the rain and to refrain from boredom setting in, Percy proposed a ghost-writing contest. All of the guests wrote a small story and read them aloud. Mary Shelly’s snippet that she read sparked the interest of Lord Byron and Percy and they encouraged her to expand her ideas and continue the story. As one might have guessed, this ghost story was none other than, “Frankenstein.”

     Percy and Mary soon returned England, only to discover that Percy’s wife had committed suicide and Percy was at liberty to marry Mary, and did so at the end of the year 1816. After this, Mary gave birth to another baby, a girl she named Clara, but sadly, again, this baby died in infancy. Due to her many sorrows after losing her children, Mary pulled away and became distant from her husband. This feeling alleviated, however, when Mary gave birth to her fourth child, Percy Florence in the year 1819. This child grew up and lived his life well into adult age. In 1822, Mary became pregnant again, but lost the baby due to a miscarriage, that almost killed Mary herself. While Mary was engaged in a life and death situation, Percy was involved in one of his own. Percy had taken a sailboat out into the sea and a storm blew in and Percy was knocked form the vessel and drowned.  Mary Shelley continued to write after her husband’s demise but her health soon deteriorated and Mary died in 1851. However, if Mary died, how did Frankenstein get to where it is today? The novel was published anonymously when she was twenty-one years of age and only when the second edition was released, did her name appear on the book.  Although Mary Shelley’s life was full of sorrow, she lived a good life and wrote one of the most iconic novels ever written. 

“Mary Shelley – Biography.” Mary Shelley. European Graduate School, n.d. Web. 08 Nov. 2013.

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