Collection: Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley, born Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (1797–1851), was the daughter of philosopher and political writer William Godwin and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft (The Vindication of the Rights of Woman). Mary Shelley had a painful and turbulent life. Her mother died shortly after giving birth. Mary ran away with poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, a married student of her father’s, which resulted in alienation from her family and scandal. The couple traveled throughout Europe and lost their first child in 1815. Then, Mary’s half-sister committed suicide, followed shortly thereafter by Percy’s wife Harriett. This unfortunate circumstance allowed Percy and Mary to be wed in 1816.

Percy Shelley drowned while sailing in 1822, leaving Mary as a young widow and mother. Mary Shelley is renowned for Frankenstein, but she also wrote additional novels, working to support her son and keeping her husband’s legacy alive. She died of brain cancer in 1851.

Mary Shelley