Mary Shelley

Early Life

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley famously known as Mary Shelley was born on the 30th of August in 1797, in Somers Town, London. She was the daughter of William Godwin, a great English philosopher, and novelist, while her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, was also a literary figure. Her mother died, leaving the responsibility of Mary Shelley on her husband’s shoulders. Her father showed her the way by publishing Memoirs of the Author of a Vindication of the Rights of Woman about his wife and her mother how to write and then publish. Mary was brought up reading this book, along with her mother’s literary pieces. Though her early years were delightful, she faced troubles when her father remarried in 1801.


Mary Shelley received little formal education. Her father taught her a variety of subjects at home and used to take her on educational outings, which proved an asset for her teaming brain. Her father’s literary circle, too, played a pivotal role in her early years. She had a chance to meet several intellectuals through her father, including Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Aaron Burr, the former Vice President of the United States. In 1811, she attended a boarding school for a short time. Since she was brought up in a house full of literary ideas, she had the opportunity to read her father’s children’s book, manuscripts of Greek history, and books on Roman culture. Her father described her as a passionate, bold child having a thirst for knowledge.

Love and Marriage

During her visit to Scotland in 1812, she met Percy B. Shelley and fell in love. Unfortunately, this affair confronted a series of difficulties. Shelley was already married, and Mary’s father, too, refused to accept this proposal. The couple fled to England leaving their families behind. However, they struggled financially and bore the loss of their first child. After facing acute tragedies, they finally married in 1816 and helped each other in their literary pursuits.


Mary Shelley, an influential figure of the seventeenth century, dazzled the world with her creative abilities. Unfortunately, she faced acute illness during her last years. She suffered from attacks of paralysis and acute headaches from 1839, which hindered her writing abilities. Later she was diagnosed with brain cancer and passed away on the 1st of February in 1851. She was buried near her late husband’s grave at St. Peter’s Church in Bournemouth.

Some Important Facts of His Life

  1. Her masterpiece, Frankenstein was used for various film adaptations including Gothic, Haunted Summer and Remando al Viento.
  2. Her world-famous work, Frankenstein, was published anonymously in 1818 and her name was added to it after five years.

Her Career

Although she faced many hardships in life, the troubles could not hinder her writing abilities. She started writing in 1816 when the family traveled to Geneva to spend their summer with a great poet, Lord Byron. They passed the time narrating horror stories on rainy days. Lord Byron suggested that they should come up with their own horror stories. Inspired by those words, she started writing her globally acclaimed novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. Later, in 1817, she published, History of a Six Weeks’ Tour, based upon their escape to Europe, and by the end of 1818, she produced a novella, Matilda. In her later years, she produced some more masterpieces including, The Last Man, a science fiction tale, and Valperga. She also became the promoter of her late husband’s works.

Her Style

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley enjoyed a successful literary life. During her childhood, her father helped her polish her writing abilities, and later, her union with Percy B. Shelley further accelerated her writing career. Using her unique style, she expressed her ideas in her literary pieces. Most of her writings reflect autobiographical elements; for example, an autographical approach of Mathilda identifies the central characters as versions of P. B. Shelley, and Mary Shelley.  She employed various techniques of various other genres in her works. Marked with a heightened romantic literary style, her novel Frankenstein presents the desire and anguish of its central character. Regarding literary devices, she turned toward imagery, symbolism, and metaphors. The recurring themes in most of her writings are nature, ambition, revenge, alienation, and the use of knowledge.

Some Important Works of Mary Shelley

  • Best Novels: She was an outstanding writer. Some of her best novels include Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, The Last Man, The Fortunes of Perkin Warbeck and
  • Other Works: Besides novels, she tried her hands on other areas as well. Some of her notable works include The Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Rambles in Germany and Italy, History of a Six Weeks’ Tour and Posthumous Poems of Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Mary Shelley’s Impact on Future Literature

Mary Shelley, with her unique abilities, left profound impacts on global literature. After many years of her demise, her works still enjoy the same prestige. Her witty ideas, along with distinct literary qualities, won applause from her readers, critics, and other fellow writers. She successfully documented her ideas about knowledge, power, and alienation in her writings that even today writers try to imitate her unique style, considering her a beacon for writing prose.

Famous Quotes

  1. The air of fashion, which many young people are so eager to attain, always strikes me like the studied attitudes of some modern prints, copied with tasteless servility after the antigue; the soul is left out, and none of the parts are tied together by what may properly be termed character. (A Vindication of the Rights of Women)
  2. It is a strange feeling for a girl when first she finds the power put into her hand of influencing the destiny of another to happiness or misery. She is like a magician holding for the first time a fairy wand, not having yet had experience of its potency. (Lodore)
  3. How dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to be greater than his nature will allow. (Frankenstein)
  4. Invention consists in the capacity of seizing on the capabilities of a subject, and in the power of moulding and fashioning ideas suggested to it. (Frankenstein)