Mary Shelley by Martin Garrett

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RATING: 4/5

BLURB: “Mary Shelley’s authorship of the novel Frankenstein guaranteed her widespread renown, but her turbulent life and other literary works are equally fascinating. Born in 1797 to the writers Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin, she inherited her parents’ passion for literature, social justice and women’s rights. At the age of just sixteen she ran away with Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and was widowed by twenty-four. During their eight years together (living mainly in Italy), she was estranged from her family and sometimes from her husband, suffered periods of depression, and saw three of their four children die in infancy. Despite her troubles, Mary Shelley maintained a busy social life, including a complicated friendship with the poet Lord Byron. She also wrote journals, short stories, mythical dramas, and several novels including Frankenstein. After her husband’s death in 1822 she returned to England with her surviving son. She continued to write, both in order to earn a living and to satisfy her literary ambitions. She also produced major editions of her husband’s poetry and prose.”

REVIEW: Mary Shelley is both one of my favourite authors and one of my favourite historical figures; as such, I always enjoy reading new biographies or fictionalised accounts of her life. This biography is extremely engaging and made even more fascinating by the use of images, including photos, paintings and portraits. It also contained some facts that I had previously had no awareness of – one of my favourites of these was the rumour that Mary and Percy Shelley first consummated their relationship in St. Pancras graveyard, not far from the grave of Mary’s mother, Mary Wollstonecraft! It was a great read with a good balance of information and speculation, and I would recommend it highly to fans of Shelley.

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