The Life of Mary Shelley Essay

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The Life of Mary Shelley

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was born in 1791 in London. She is the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft and William Goodwin. Wollstonecraft was a radical feminist writer, and Goodwin was a writer as well as a philosopher. It was said that this couple's combined intellect was dangerous to society; however, days after Mary's birth, Wollstonecraft died due to complications from the pregnancy. Mary spent a lot of time visiting her mother's grave when she was growing up. Her father taught her how to spell her mother's name by having her trace the letters on the headstone with her fingers, an interesting yet morbid way to teach a seven year old how to spell. Goodwin raised Mary by himself for the early part of her
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Two years passed, and Mary had bore Percy two children; one died a month after birth, and the other died at five months old. This was just the beginning of the tragedies in Mary's life.

In the summer of 1816, tensions began to lift long enough for the brilliant Mary to envision the story of Frankenstein. Shelley, Mary, and Claire rented a house in Lake Geneva, close to the Villa Diodati where Lord Byron, Percy's friend, lived. They would all spend nights together discussing topics in literature, philosophy, and science fiction. Reading and telling ghost stories to each other inspired Byron to challenge the members of this intellectual circle to create their own ghost stories. After a heated discussion on galvanism, which is the reanimation of a corpse through electricity, Mary went to sleep, not knowing that she would dream up the creation of Frankenstein. During that dream she had what she called a "waking nightmare." She had a dream that a student created a human being, and woke him up with machinery [5]. The novel will be completed and published in 1818; Mary was nineteen at the time of publication. At such a young age, this was an outstanding feat for a women writer of her time. She also finally married Percy in December of 1816, after Harriet committed suicide. Also during this summer, Mary's half-sister Fanny Imlay commits suicide as well. So it is apparently obvious that the tragic deaths of her relatives and her children had an effect on her
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