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Mary Shelley was born on August 30, 1797 — in the 8th year of the French Revolution. Her parents already held some attention for their radical writing. Her father, William Godwin,

was a philosopher, atheist and anarchist. Her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft was the writer of A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1790), and is considered one of the first active feminists. Both parents shaped the revolutionary ideas of the era. Although her parents didn't believe in marriage, they married to legitimize their daughter's birth.

Her mother died tragically 10 days after giving birth, so Mary Shelley never knew her mother. She idolized her father, though she disliked her stepmother. From an early age, she was surrounded by famous writers, philosophers and poets. So, I suppose it was inevitable that she would become a famous writer herself... and perhaps it was also fated that she would fall in love with a writer as well.

In May of 1814, Mary Shelley met and fell in love with Percy Bysshe Shelley. In July, they eloped to the Continent. It wasn't until December of 1816, when Percy's first wife committed suicide that Mary and Percy were married. Of the 4 children that Mary Shelley gave birth to, only Percy Florence survived.

Mary Shelley's first and most important work was Frankenstein, which was finished when she was 19-years-old. The story came out of a holiday that Mary and Percy took in Switzerland with Byron. The writers were all talking about the supernatural one night when Byron proposed that they each should write a ghost story. That night, Mary had a waking nightmare, which eventually developed into the story of Frankenstein and his hideous progeny. Mary Shelley spend under a year writing the book and it was published in 1818. Frankenstein is still considered her greatest work.

The Shelley family lived in Italy from 1818 until 1822, when Mary's husband drowned. His boat, Ariel, capsized during a storm. After his death, Mary returned with Percy Florence to London.

Mary Shelley died at the age of 53 from a brain tumour. She is buried in St Peters Churchyard, Bournemouth beside the remains of William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft.

Although Frankenstein is the work Mary Shelley is most well-known for, she created other literature as well: Matilda, Valperga, The Last Man, The Fortunes of Perkin Warbeck, Lodore, Falkner, Lives of the Most Eminent Men of France, Rambles in Germany and Italy.


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