Mary Shelley (British Library Writers' Lives)

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9780712347686: Mary Shelley (British Library Writers' Lives)

Mary Shelley's authorship of the novel "Frankenstein" guaranteed her widespread renown, but her turbulent life and other literary works are equally fascinating. Born in 1797 to the writers Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin, she inherited her parents' passion for literature, social justice and women's rights. At the age of just 16 she ran away with Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and was widowed by 24. During their eight years together (living mainly in Italy), she was estranged from her family and sometimes from her husband, suffered periods of depression, and saw three of their four children die in infancy. Despite her troubles, Mary Shelley maintained a busy social life, including a complicated friendship with the poet Lord Byron. She also wrote journals, short stories, mythical dramas, and several novels, including "Frankenstein". After her husband's death in 1822 she returned to England with her surviving son. She continued to write, both in order to earn a living and to satisfy her literary ambitions. She also produced major editions of her husband's poetry and prose. Martin Garrett's biography - extensively illustrated with original letters and manuscripts - captures the extraordinary life of Mary Shelley and the social circle in which she moved. The author also discusses some of Mary Shelley's lesser-known writings, long neglected but now the subject of continuing critical attention.

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About the Author:

Dr. Martin Garrett is a lifelong aficionado of 19th-century English literature.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 10 Up-Mary Godwin Shelley, her husband Percy, and the various people who touched their lives receive an unbiased review in this book. By including details from the writer's diaries and those of her contemporaries in chronological order, Garrett weaves the story of Shelley's life with analyses of her work-most famously, Frankenstein. The author presents ample but dry information about his subject's formative years, her young romance with Percy, their struggles and the deaths of three of their children, their bohemian travels, and Percy's death. The authorial voice rarely intrudes on the events, except perhaps to clarify a popular belief of the time or challenge the veracity of the primary source. Garrett also provides a mature reading of her works and the excellent full-color and black-and-white illustrations are informative as well as appealing. However, the reproductions of original letters and drafts are virtually unreadable. This, along with the British vocabulary and style, makes the book most appropriate for the narrow audience of AP or dual-credit students.
Karen Hoth, Marathon Middle/High School, FL
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Martin Garrett
Published by British Library Publishing Division, London (2002)
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