Mary Shelley | First Editions

1797 - 1854

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (née Godwin; 30 August 1797 – 1 February 1851) was an English novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (1818). Shelley also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley. She came from a fascinating literary/political lineage, with her father being the political philosopher William Godwin, and her mother the philosopher and prominent feminist, Mary Wollstonecraft.

Although much of her popularity focuses upon Frankenstein, recent scholarship has yielded a more comprehensive view of Mary Shelley’s achievements. Scholars have shown increasing interest in her historical novels, biographical articles, and travel writing. Such studies have posited that Mary Shelley was politically radical, and remained this way throughout her life. Shelley's works often argue that cooperation and sympathy, particularly as practised by women in the family, were the ways to reform civil society. This view was a direct challenge to the individualistic Romantic ethos promoted by her husband and father.

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