> > > Mary Shelley (1797-1851)

Mary Shelley (1797-1851)

Shelfmark: Shelley relics (d)
Credit: Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

Chronology of Mary Shelley's life on the 'Romantic Circles' website.

Mary Shelley (1797-1851) was born in London, the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft, who died shortly after birth, and William Godwin. In 1814 she eloped to the Continent with Percy Bysshe Shelley, accompanied by her half-sister, Jane ‘Claire’ Clairmont. The three of them went abroad again in 1816, spending time with Lord Byron in Geneva, and touring the Alps. Shelley’s and Mary's accounts of the two continental tours were published (anonymously) in 1817 as History of a Six Weeks' Tour. At the end of 1816 Shelley's first wife, Harriet, committed suicide, and he and Mary married.

In January 1818 Mary published (again anonymously) her best-known work, Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus. In March she left England with Shelley and spent the next five years in Italy. The deaths of her daughter Clara in Venice in 1818, and son William in Rome in 1819, affected her deeply. Shelley was drowned in August 1822, and in August the following year Mary returned to England. She raised her surviving child, Percy Florence, and wrote prolifically. As well as contributing to periodicals and reviews, she wrote travel literature, biographies and several novels, including The Last Man (1826), Lodore (1835) and Falkner (1837). Second and third editions of Frankenstein were published in 1823 and 1831. Mary also edited major editions of Shelley's works. She died of a brain tumour, aged 53.

Object details

Bodleian Libraries

Broad Street