HAPPY BIRTHDAY – Mary Shelley, born 30 August 1797
I admire Mary Shelley and also feel desperately sorry for her. She eloped with the great poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley when she was in her teens, and then had a really tough time of it following him around Europe, always in debt, usually pregnant and having to cope with the deaths of all her children except one. At the age of 19 she wrote Frankenstein, an extraordinary achievement for so young a girl. She later wrote many other works, but none of them had the same impact.
There is a wonderful book, The Godwins and the Shelleys, by William St Clair, which gives the amazing history of those families and there is also a very good biography of Mary by Miranda Seymour.
I’m fascinated by the Romantic poets and their circle, but I do both envy and pity the women who shared their lives – they did not have an easy time of it.
Mary Shelley’s last years were blighted by illness and she died on 1 February 1851 at the age of 53.
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