Mary Shelley (1797 – 1851) lived what appears to been be a fairly horrific life. She easily stands as a sort of icon for the romantic, feminist, intellectual and bohemian lifestyle. Her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, famed early feminist, died giving birth to her, her father, William Godwin, was a philosopher (enough said), her step-mother openly hated her, her step-sister was suicidal and eventually succeeded in the deed, and at the age of 19, Shelley tried to escape her familial hell by eloping with the soon-to-be literary genius of the English speaking world, (and already married) Percy Bysshe Shelly. The two of them and a sister left for the continent for a year of travels and returned with Mary pregnant with their first child that would die in infancy. Of their four children, only one survived, and Percy Shelley drowned only a few years later in a boating accident at the age of 30.
Speaking of her book Frankenstein, she writes in her Author’s Introduction: “And now, once again, I bid my hideous progeny go forth and prosper. I have an affection for it, for it was the offspring of happy days, when death and grief were but words which found no true echo in my heart. Its several pages speak of many a walk, many a drive, and many a a conversation, when I was not alone; and my companion was one who, in this world, I shall never see more. But this is for myself; my readers have nothing to do with these associations.” (Frankenstein, Puffin Classics, 7-8)