Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Essay

1040 words - 4 pages

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Mary Shelley was born August 30, 1797 and died February 1, 1851. Her nationality was British. By the time she was nineteen, Mary had written one of the most famous novels ever published, Frankenstein; which was published in 1818.
She also wrote six other novels, a novella, mythological dramas, stories and articles, various travel books, and biographical studies. By 1851, the year of her death, she had established a reputation as a prominent author independent of her famous husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Eleven days after her birth, her mother Mary Wollstonecraft died of puerperal fever, leaving her father William Godwin to take care of her and her half-sister Fanny. The day after her funeral, Godwin began to sort through Mary Wollstonecraft’s papers, and by September he had begun to work on the story of her life. Mary became his favourite child. He called her “pretty little Mary”. Mary’s attachment to her father was to become intense and long lasting. Three years after Mary Wollstonecraft’s death, William met and married Mary Jane Clairmont. Mary Shelley’s relationship with her step-mother was strained. Mary Jane resented Mary’s affection for her father and became very jealous of her. Not only did she begin demanding Mary to do household chores, she also invaded Mary’s privacy and opened her letters. Nor did she encourage her love for reading and writing. Mary never received any formal education. Fortunately, she had access to her father’s excellent library. Her favourite pastime as a child was to “write stories”. As Mary became a young woman, the tension between her and Mary Jane intensified. In the summer of 1812 Godwin sent his precious only daughter to visit William Baxter, an acquaintance who lived in Dundee, Scotland. With the Baxter family, Mary experienced a happiness she had rarely known. She grew fond of Baxter, and a friendship soon developed between Mary and his two daughters, Christina and Isabel. This close-knit family was to provide Mary with a model of domestic affection and harmony that would surface later in her fiction. The dunes, the beach, and the barren hills near Dundee inspired Mary, and she would later describe this scenery in her novella Mathilda (written in 1819-1820).
On a visit home in 1812, she met Percy Bysshe Shelley, a political radical and free-thinker like her father, when Percy and his first wife Harriet visited Godwin's home and bookshop in London. By 1814, Percy Shelley was paying frequent visits to Godwin, and had struck up a friendship with his daughter, Mary. Initially, Percy’s relationship with his wife was a happy one, as she made an effort to share in his studies and his intellectual pursuits. After their daughter Eliza Ianthe Shelley was born, however, Harriet gave up on their intellectual life completely, and she did not pay as much attention to Percy’s interests. Shelley was not pleased with this change: as the eldest son of a wealthy baronet with a mother and four...

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