Feminism and Frankenstein

The Daily Mail posted an article on Mary Shelley, the author of “Frankenstein,” today. The article reflects on her life and work in response to a soon to be published book by Fiona Sampson, “In Search of Mary Shelley.”

Some time ago I read “Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley,” by Charlotte Gordon, who presented her work at the Boston Book Festival. I was glad to be in the audience.

I knew of Mary Wollonstonecraft (d. 1797) and had read her work, “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.” Christopher Hitchens was a fan of her work and based on his recommendation of it, I got a copy. It was a very good read, sensible, reasoned, and, of course, ahead of its time. She died giving birth to her daughter Mary, dying from an infection caught through the dirty and unwashed hands of her doctor, not an uncommon event in those days.

Mary grew up to be the author of “Frankenstein” and many other works. She was also the wife of the poet Percy Shelley, was one of the major English Romantic poets, and is regarded as among the finest lyric poets in the English language. His bohemian lifestyle brought them into much misery, both financial and maritally. She endured many of his infidelities and lost three of her children to death through their itinerant living. Shelly drowned in a boating accident at age 29. She went on to a life of writing and a guardian of Percy Shelley’s literary estate and legacy.

Life was never easy for her, but she carved out her place both as an entertaining author and a thought leader for feminism. 

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