We thought it would be fun to dedicate a blog post to Mary Shelley and her fascinating life. Here are five of our most favourite facts!
1. Mary’s Mother - Mary Wollstonecraft.
Mary Wollstonecraft is often referred to as Britain’s First Feminist with her book considered an integral part of early feminist literature. ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Women’ suggested that women were not biologically inferior to men at all but were treated as such due to the lack of educational opportunities that were available to them. The book was considered incredibly controversial at the time. Mary tragically died of postpartum infection just eleven days after giving birth to her daughter.
2. Mary Shelley - The Other Woman.
Mary met her future husband at just sixteen. Percy Bysshe Shelley was already married at this point to Harriet Westbrook. Despite this, the pair proceeded to engage in a two year public affair which resulted in both women falling pregnant at similar times. Harriet committed suicide shortly after both women fell pregnant thus enabling the pair to get married. There was a lot of speculation surrounding the suicide with some believing that Mary’s father arranged for Harriet to be murdered in order to legitimise his daughter’s affair and future grandchild.
3. Mary Shelley - The Competitor
Mary spent some time in Lake Geneva, Switzerland with Percy and their friends Lord Byron and John William Polidori. Frankenstein was created after the friends challenged one another to see who could write the best horror story. I think it’s fair to assume who won that contest!
4. Mary Shelley - The Accomplished.
Mary began writing Frankenstein when she was just eighteen. (I know, we suddenly feel unaccomplished too). It was published two years later but her name wasn’t on it. Frankenstein was published under Anonymous with the preface written by husband. It was another five years before her novel was republished with she as the credited author.
5. Mary Shelley - The Ultimate Goth?
Mary suffered a lot of tragedy throughout her lifetime. By the age of twenty-four she had lost her mother, three children and her husband. Her husband drowned in a boating accident and his heart was calcified. Mary wrapped her husband’s heart in his poetry and kept it in her desk drawer. Her son discovered it after his mother’s death.