Despite living in the restricted Victorian age, where a woman's place was in the house, tending to her husband and children, Mary Godwin Shelley blazed an unusual, distinctly non-Victorian route through life. Frankenstein, Mary Godwin Shelley's most famous masterpiece, has well-known beginnings. In 1716, when she was just 14 years old, she married William Godwin, an intellectual for whom she had great respect. They had three children together before divorcing in 1736. Two years later, she married again, this time to Dr. John Shelley, who died after only four months of marriage. She then moved back in with her father, who was by this time an established political philosopher. It was during these years that she wrote Frankenstein.
Mary Shelley went on to have more children with her third husband, who was also her cousin. He too died young (of a fever) before they could be married long enough for him to inherit property from his family. With no hope of marrying her second husband's son, she agreed to marry yet another man, this time a widower named Percy Bysshe Shelley. They had one child together before he died at the young age of 36. After which, she lived with her daughter until she came of age. She then took charge of her finances and managed to save up enough money to buy a house of her own. This is when she decided to write novels.
Mary Shelley was a British novelist well known for her novel 'Frankenstein.' The story reflected Mary's own feelings of estrangement and solitude. Frankenstein was also a watershed moment in the acceptance of women's literary contributions. It is estimated that half of Shelley's readers were men and this shows that she had become one of Britain's most read authors.
Shelley was born on 15 February 1797 in London, England. Her father was William Godwin who was an influential political philosopher and her mother was Mary Wollstonecraft who was a pioneering feminist writer. She had two younger brothers named William and John.
After the death of her mother when Mary was nine years old, she and her brother William were brought up by their aunt Claire Clairmont and uncle Charles Clairmont who were friends of the Godwins. Under their care, Mary developed a love for reading and learned to write at a very early age. She also received some education from private tutors before being sent to school where she met other famous people such as Percy Bysshe Shelley who would go on to be her husband. They married in 1815 after having met during a summer vacation when they were both students at Oxford University.
Mary became pregnant with Percy's child but he had already left for Italy to study art. When she told him she was expecting his child, he abandoned her.
Mary Shelley was the daughter of radical philosopher William Godwin, who described her as "singularly forthright, rather imperious, and lively of thought." Her mother, the great feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, died just days after she was born. The couple never married nor had any other children.
Godwin began writing when he was 17 years old. He published his first book, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, at the age of 24. It became a landmark work in economic theory. Over the next few years, Godwin wrote more than 20 other books, including some novels that are now considered classics of British literature: Caleb Williams, Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus, and St. Leonards School.
During this time, he also met and fell in love with another young writer named Harriet Westbrook. The two planned to marry but Harriet's father refused to give his consent because he believed Godwin was a poor man. In retaliation, Godwin burned all his money trying to prove that slavery was immoral. This incident caused him to lose everything and led to the end of his marriage plans.
After this failure, Godwin stopped writing for several years to focus on his family. When he did return, it was with another novel that would make his name worldwide: Frankenstein.
Mary Shelley was born into an intellectual family: her parents were feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft and philosopher William Godwin. Shelley's romantic relationships caused her father to abandon her. Shelley met poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, an admirer of her father, when she was just 16 years old. They married in 1815, a few months before his death from cancer. She went on to have two children with him.
Shelley became famous after writing the novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, which was published in 1818. The book was very controversial at the time because it included stories about scientists who created life-like robots. These stories are based on conversations she had with her husband about Dr. Henry Clowes, a surgeon who worked with galvanism, or electricity, as a form of treatment. Mary Shelley got some of her ideas for the story from these conversations.
Frankenstein has been considered one of the first science fiction novels and has been cited as an influence by many authors, including H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, and Isaac Asimov. It has also been interpreted as a tale of love between scientist and patient, which would not be unusual in today's world but was more controversial in 1818.
In addition to writing Frankenstein, Mary Shelley also wrote three other books: Valperga (or Life in Italy), La Bavière (or Bavaria), and Confessions.