Inspired by this wind of promise my daydreams become more fervent and vivid (Shelley 1). Mary Shelley, a great poet of her time, left many legacies and inspired writers all across the nation. From childhood to adulthood, she overcame obstacles in life. Her inspiring life can only begin to be described in words, and her works live on today. Mary Shelleys elaborate life, little known fictions, and horrific monsters have nationally been defined through the years.
In order to separate Mary Shelleys life, the tragedies she experienced must first be examined. Her first tragedy was the death of her mother (Patnaik 1). Complications arose during giving birth to Mary Shelley, and the mother died due to unavailable medical care during that time period (1). This left Mary always lacking a certain part of her life, without a mother figure.
This tragedy affected Mary Shelley in many ways (Patnaik 1). Along with the absence of her mother in life, Mary Shelleys father, William Godwin, went on to write Memoirs of the Rights of Women (1). In this book he proceeded to describe many particular parts of Mary Wollstonecraftss existence in strict detail (1). He included such aspects as her previous relations with an American and the daughter she had with him, and her various attempts to kill herself (1). This affected Shelley greatly mentally and personally. But where were my friends and relations? No father had watched my infant days, no mother blessed me with smiles and caresses (Shelley 106).
There were also various other family deaths. Fanny Imlay, Mary Shelleys half sister, committed suicide a short while after Mary and Percy were married (Patnaik 1). Percys wife also committed suicide by drowning herself (1).
Through these deaths, Mary Shelley reanimated her tragedies in her writings (AuthorWorks 52). She told an epic story of her life, and used herself as a main character. Through the loneliness she felt, Mary reached out to the world and brought herself into the hearts of the nation (Denise 1).
Her relationship with Percy Shelley also defined a plethora of Mary Shelleys life. She heightened her previous infamous life by running off with Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1814 (Patnaik 1). Shelley was only seventeen years old at the time, and Percy was also currently married (1). He abandoned his wife who was pregnant at the time and his daughter to escape with Mary to live (1).
Before their marriage in 1816, Mary and Percy had two illegitimate children while living together (1). Due to their outrageous actions of the time and unacceptable behavior Percy and Mary were outcast from their families and society (1). Mary and Percy also had numerous other family and financial problems (Patnaik 1). In order to avoid paying bills and rent, the couple moved around frequently, trying to avoid their financial difficulties (1 of 6).
Shelleys legacy began with her education. Shelley never received any formal education, ordinary for a girl of that time (Shelley vi). My education was neglected, yet I was passionately fond of reading. These volumes were my study day and night (Shelley 2). Shelley believed that knowledge was a privilege that must be sought for and acquired (11). She sought for this wisdom through her desires to get an education (13). Most of Shelleys education came from reading on her own. Though a formal education was never received, she was raised by great figures of literature and was always encouraged it use her imagination and be creative (Patnaik 2 of 6).
Some other sources of education came from visitors around her household (2 of 6). Samuel L. Coleridge, and influential writer of his time, was among one of these visitors who read Rime of the Ancient Mariner to her (2 of 6).
These visions faded when I perused for the first time,
these poets whose effusions entranced my soul and lifted
it to heaven. I also became a poet and for one year lived
in a paradise of my own creation; I imagined that I also
might obtain a niche in the temple where the names of
Homer and Shakespeare are consecrated (Shelley 2).
Mary Shelley received inspiration for writings of monsters by the works of Rousseau (Patnaik 3 of 6). She studied Rousseau, and during this time Mary wrote Frankenstein through a simple agreement between Lord Byron, Mary, and Percy, to each write a ghost story (Shelley vii). She pondered of a story until finally she found one that she believed would send readers into shock (Shelley ix). At the time, she didnt realize exactly how popular her book would become.
Mary Shelley went on to have some less popular fictions published, including Mathilda and Lodore (Denise 2). Among some of her most well known works are Valperga or the Life and Adventures of Castuccio, Prince of Lucca, and The Last Man (Denise 2 of 5).
Mary Shelley died at the age of 53 from a brain tumor (Denise 2). She is buried in St. Peters Churchyard, Bournemouth along with William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft (2).
Through many tragedies and many losses, Mary Shelley overcame her obstacles and made her legacy. Mary Shelleys elaborate life, little known fictions, and horrific monsters have been nationally defined through the years.
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. New York: Dover, 1994
AuthorWorks. Illinois: Scott-Foresman-Addison Wesley, 1997.
Denise. Mary Shelley. January 1999. July 13, 2000
Patnaik, Sumeta. “Mary Shelley and the Desire to Acquire Knowledge: As Demonstrated in the Novel Frankenstein.” Mary Shelley and Knowledge. July 13, 2000