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Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft.

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Introduction

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft (n�e Godwin; 1797-1851), English novelist, daughter of the British philosopher and novelist William Godwin and the British author and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft. Mary was born in London. Her mother died ten days after her birth. Her father had many literary friends, and Mary's childhood was populated by such figures as William Hazlitt, Charles Lamb, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In 1812, Percy Bysshe Shelley and his wife Harriet joined their circle. Before Mary was 17, she and Shelley were meeting secretly by her mother's grave in St Pancras churchyard. After Shelley's separation from Harriet in 1814, he and Mary eloped to the Continent. In the eight years before the poet's death, the couple lived an unconventional life, moving between Italy, England, and Switzerland, part of a bohemian set that included the poets John Keats and Lord Byron. ...read more.

Middle

Victor's experiments dramatize the morality of the act of creation itself. He explains: "I collected bones from charnel- houses; and disturbed, with profane fingers, the tremendous secrets of the human frame." Horrified by the result of his project, Frankenstein abandons the Creature, who wanders the countryside, tormented by his total isolation from humanity. The Creature persuades his creator to construct a second, female being, but Victor dismembers this before it can be brought to life. In revenge, the Creature murders Frankenstein's bride. A chase across the world then ensues, Victor determining "to pursue the d�mon who caused this misery until he or I shall perish in mortal conflict". The Creature, despite his monstrosity, is an intensely tragic figure, and Shelley effects an uncanny merging of its personality with that of Victor, who considers it "my own vampire, my own spirit let loose from the grave". ...read more.

Conclusion

The final section of the book sees its narrator, Lionel Verney, living in the ruins of a decimated Rome. The Fortunes of Perkin Warbeck (1830) is a historical drama much influenced by the novels of Sir Walter Scott. Lodore (1835) and Falkner (1837) are domestic stories with strongly autobiographical elements. Another novel, Mathilda (1819), which tells the story of an incestuous relationship between a father and daughter, remained unpublished until 1959. Financing her son's private education, Mary Shelley continued to write essays and short fiction for periodicals such as the Keepsake. Between 1835 and 1838 she produced a series of scholarly biographies for the Lardner's Cabinet Cyclop�dia series. The death of Sir Timothy Shelley in 1844 brought a new-found security to her life, but her closing years were troubled by threats of blackmail from embittered members of the Shelley and Byron families. ...read more.

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