Author Spotlight: Mary Shelley (Happy Frankenstein Day!)
[image credit: Wikipedia]
Since today is Frankenstein Day (as in the doctor, not the monster!), we couldn’t miss our chance to celebrate the mother of science-fiction behind this literary masterpiece.
Who was she?
Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (London, 30th August 1797 - 1 February 1851) was the daughter of a feminist philosopher, who died shortly after giving birth, and a political philosopher, who always encouraged her to read and write.
She had a difficult life, marked by a troubled relationship with her stepmother, debt, miscarriages, death and grief. Still, she managed to support herself as a writer (an almost unheard of decision for a woman at that time) and leave a strong legacy behind. #GirlPower!
Her love with Percy Shelley
Mary was only 16 when she and the poet (unhappily married to another woman) fell in love. They eloped together and lived a novelesque literary life, travelling abroad and inspiring each other’s work. The two writers stayed together until Shelley’s premature death: he drowned when she was only 24.
The story behind Frankenstein
In 1816, Percy, Mary and her stepsister Claire Clairmont, who was desperately in love with Lord Byron, spent a particularly wet summer by Lake Geneva in Switzerland. Regular guests at Lord Byron’s villa, they spent many rainy evenings reading German ghost stories, until the ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’ poet suggested that they each come up with a horror story.
Inspired by the death of her baby, a nightmare and the group’s recent discussions on galvanism, she conceived what later became “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus”. Did we mention that she was only 18?
And she didn’t even get the credit, at first! Percy Shelley’s preface to the first anonymous edition led many to believe he was the author.
Bashed by critics and considered “a tissue of horrible and disgusting absurdity”, Frankenstein was immediately loved by its readers and is now considered the first science-fiction novel. Not bad, right?
Banned in South Africa in the 50s, Frankenstein is featured on our scarf that pays homage to the most famous banned books and their brave authors.
Let’s celebrate Frankenstein Day by remembering Mary Shelley’s incredible life!