The Mary Shelley Reader by Mary W. Shelley

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CONTENTS: Six Short Stories:The Evil EyeThe DreamThe Heir of MondolfoThe Invisible GirlOn GhostsThe ParvenueTwo Plays:Proserpine and MidasOne Novel:Frankenstein; Or The Modern Prometheus

About Mary W. Shelley

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Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was born in England on August 30, 1797. Her parents were two celebrated liberal thinkers, William Godwin, a social philosopher, and Mary Wollstonecraft, a women's rights advocate. Eleven days after Mary's birth, her mother died of puerperal fever. Four motherless years later, Godwin married Mary Jane Clairmont, bringing her and her two children into the same household with Mary and her half-sister, Fanny. Mary's idolization of her father, his detached and rational treatment of their bond, and her step-mother's preference for her own children created a tense and awkward home. Mary's education and free-thinking were encouraged, so it should not surprise us today that at the age of sixteen she ran off with the brilliant, nineteen-year old and unhappily married Percy Bysshe Shelley. Shelley became her ideal, but their life together was a difficult one. Traumas plagued them: Shelley's wife and Mary's half-sister both committed suicide; Mary and Shelley wed shortly after he was widowed but social disapproval forced them from England; three of their children died in infancy or childhood; and while Shelley was an aristocrat and a genius, he was also moody and had little money. Mary conceived of her magnum opus, Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, when she was only nineteen when Lord Byron suggested they tell ghost stories at a house party. The resulting book took over two years to write and can be seen as the brilliant creation of a powerful but tormented mind. The story of Frankenstein has endured nearly two centuries and countless variations because of its timeless exploration of the tension between our quest for knowledge and our thirst for good. Shelley drowned when Mary was only 24, leaving her with an infant and debts. Mary died in 1851 at the age of 54 from a brain tumor. Betty T. Bennett is Distinguished Professor in the Department of Literature at American University. She is the editor of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley: An Introduction, available from Johns Hopkins. Stuart Curran is Vartan Gregorian Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Poetic Form and British Romanticism. A collection of essays about Percy Bysshe Shelley compiled by Bennett and Curran, Shelley: Poet and Legislator of the World, is also available from Johns Hopkins.
Published November 15, 1990 by Oxford University Press. 446 pages
Genres: Horror, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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