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Mary Shelley: Life of Literature

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Mary Shelley: Life of Literature

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  • October 2007
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"I, the miserable and the abandoned, am an abortion, to be spurned at, and kicked, and trampled on" (SparkNote on Frankenstein). This famous quote said by Frankenstein, in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, which leaves a lasting impression on the reader was intended by Shelley. Literature was a major part of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's childhood and adulthood.

Mary Shelley's parents brought literature to her from the day she was born. Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, as she was named at birth, was born to two intellectual rebels of their day, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, on August 30th, 1797. Mary Wollstonecraft was the celebrated author of A Vindication of the Right's of Woman (Mary Shelley Biography). Godwin was the author of An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice. Just twelve days, later her mother would pass away due to puerperal fever (Garrett 9). This left William to care for Mary and Fanny Imlay, Mary's three-year-old half sister. William would spend a few months putting together Memoirs of the Author of a Vindication of the Rights of Woman which would be published in January of 1798. It is a sensitive, yet factual account of the life and writings of Mary, including her infatuation with the painter Henry Fuseli, her affair with former officer in the American Revolutionary Army, Gilbert Imlay, the father of Fanny, and her two unsuccessful attempts at taking her own life (Mary Shelley Biography). The unintended consequence of the honesty became a scandal which took many years to die away. In 1801, William married Mary Jane Clairmont, their next-door neighbor. She already had two illegitimate children (Garrett 10). Mary Shelley 's relationship with her stepmother was strained and filled with tension. The new Mrs. Godwin resented Mary's intense affection for her father. Not only did she demand that Mary do household chores, she constantly encroached on Mary's privacy, opening her letters and limiting her access to William. She also did not encourage...

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