Biography of Mary Shelley (1797-1851)

English writer, born in London on August 30, 1797 and died in his hometown in 1851. Leading figure in English romanticism, is universally known for his work in horror Frankenstein (1818). The narrative of Mary Shelley reflects perfectly the tastes and concerns of romanticism: struggle between science and spirit, interest in the tormented characters, doubts about the sense of life, mystery, passions, feelings, etc.

Mary Shelley, painted by Richard Rothwell.


Daughter of the philosopher and Economist was the William Godwin, a brilliant intellectual who had meant by his librepensadora ideology. His mother was also a very liberal intellectual, writer Mary Wollstonecraft, one of the first defenders of feminism in English culture. He died eleven days after having given birth to the future writer.

The small Mary grew up beside two inseparable companions throughout his childhood and adolescence. One of them was his biggest sister Fanny Imlay, a girl Mary Wollstonecraft had when still was unmarried. The liberal William Godwin had embraced and raised naturally at home.

Another companion of both was clear, daughter of Mary Jane Clairmont, a widow that Godwin had married after the death of his first wife or the young Jane. With the passage of time, this girl would become a lover of the great romantic poet Lord Byron.

The three girls (Fanny and Mary Clara) grew up in an atmosphere of culture and freedom rare among women of her time. His father and tutor was responsible for it to receive a wonderful education, which soon allowed them to interact with the leading artists, writers and intellectuals of London at the beginning of the 19th century cultural landscape.

That is how Mary knew, in 1814, to another of the great poets of English romanticism, Percy Bysshe Shelley. While this was married, both fell in love and, two months have been known, escaped from London.

Clara, which remained very attached to Mary, escaped with them. The third of that inseparable of companions, Fanny, group stayed in London, where shortly thereafter removed the life poisoning with laudanum (in a very characteristic of the romantic spirit Act).

In 1816 also Harriet Westbrook, the wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley committed suicide. This, as soon as it was learned widower, was married to Mary. From then on, she legally used the surname of her husband, so it ended up going to posterity under the name of Mary Shelley.

Percy, Mary, and Clara living in Switzerland, on the shore of a beautiful Lake. There he met with them the great poet George Gordon, better known by his title of "Lord Byron", which had left London after having been involved in a love scandal.

Clara and Lord Byron fell in love, and that passionate relationship on the shores of Lake Geneva was a girl named Allegra. But the stay of the four in the quiet Swiss landscape was also very fruitful for the history of literature.

One stormy night, Byron suggested that all the people who were there to write a horror story. In the end, Byron or Shelley (that is, the two famous authors of that group) came to write their story. Clara also did it; but the young Mary Shelley took the game seriously and wrote one of the masterpieces of literature of horror: Frankenstein. That night's storm in which Byron proposed to write horror stories came out another critical work for the horror genre: Vampire, tale written by John William Polidori, physician and Assistant to Byron. This story formed the basis of history that would later make famous Bram Stoker Dracula (1897) entitled.

Become a famous author thanks to Frankenstein, Mary Shelley continued to write novels, although it failed to reach the success achieved by his first work with them. Always beside Percy B. Shelley, she became pregnant from him four times, but only managed to keep alive a girl, the only daughter of the marriage.

Despite the premature death of her husband (which occurred in 1822, when they only had eight years together), Mary and Percy toured many European countries: France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany and Holland... The death of the poet, the author returned to London, to his father's House.

Dedicated fully to his writings and caring for your home and family, Mary Shelley not remarried or to maintain PR with other men, even though never lacked you suitors, among them, the great American writer Washington Irving.


Mary Shelley is one of the great female authors of English letters. His influence on the horror genre, by means of his masterpiece Frankenstein or the modern Prometheus (1818), has been felt in the narrative traditions from around the world.

Frankenstein immediately became a role model for the narrative of terror. But the story has other elements of great interest, apart from the intended to produce fear in readers.

At first Mary Shelley raises an old issue of the universal culture (present in many literary traditions of different countries, some very old). It is the myth of the man who is able to give life to another being, something which, in principle, is only reserved for the gods.

The originality of Shelley is that not based the powers of Dr. Frankenstein in religious or spiritual forces, but in his scientific research. Thanks to its knowledge, is capable of giving life to a being built from different anatomical parts of other deceased beings.

The second important issue within Frankenstein is the evil of society and the individuals who compose it. This evil is capable of damaging to humans more kind and innocent, as happens to the monstrous creature of Dr. Frankenstein.

Indeed, the monster, when you receive life thanks to the scientific studies of its creator, displays a noble and kind heart. However, becomes violent and cruel when others attack him, terrorized by his deformed appearance.

Are other novels of Mary Shelley: Valperga, novel Gothic, i.e., of fear and mystery: castles, ghosts, strange noises, mysterious basement, etc.; The last man, fantasy novel that also raises a terrifying situation: an epidemic of plague has ended practically with the human being, because only has left a man with life; Mathilda, novel written by Mary Shelley in 1819, although it was not published until 1859, eight years after the writer had disappeared; and The fortunes of Perkin Warbeck and Falkner, two historical novels of Mary Shelley, genre which was not very successful.

He also wrote numerous newspaper articles, essays and biographies by custom, and was responsible for editing the poetry of her husband. He was also author of some short stories or novellas as the children story "Mauricio or the fisherman's hut", fantastic tale "Transformation" and "The mortal immortal", where he reflects on the problems which would have if human life were eternal.