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Biography

The childhood of Mary Shelley (1797 - 1851), sounds rather like a dark fairy-tale. Her mother died giving birth to her and she was brought up by a remote father and a step-mother who hated her. Her step-sister was a depressive and later committed suicide and Mary had little in common with her step-brother or her half-brother. As a young girl, she escaped into books and would often read by the side of her mother's tomb.

In 1813 Mary met Percy Bysshe Shelley. He was only twenty-one but was already unhappily married. He was destined to be one of the geniuses of English poetry. The two fell in love and eloped, despite Mary's age. Her father, William Godwin, disowned her, but still she and Shelley were married in 1816. They settled in Italy but tragedy seemed to follow them. Only one of their four children lived very long and then, in 1822, when he was just thirty, Shelley was drowned. Mary lived for another thirty years but she lost the promise that she had shown in the company of her brilliant husband and his friends, such as the poet Lord Byron. The single book that we remember her for belonged to her happy time in Italy.

It was Byron who suggested in 1817, that they each write a horror story. The result in Mary's case, was Frankenstein. As well as being creepier than most other books in the genre, Frankenstein has a far better story-line and is in the end, both moving and tragic. Amazingly, a young girl of twenty gave us the book whose name has become synonymous with horror.

Books

Frankenstein

Mary Shelley

With an introduction from Haifaa al-Mansour, director of Mary Shelley.

There is something in my soul, which I do not understand.

Written by a teenage girl, Frankenstein is one of literature's greatest Gothic horror stories.

Now with a striking new cover, discover one of the books considered to be a pioneer of YA.

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Victor Frankenstein has made a terrible mistake. In his desperate pursuit to create life, he has created a monster.

A monster which, abandoned by his master and shunned by everyone it meets, follows Dr Frankenstein to the very ends of the earth with horror and murder in its recycled heart.

Shelly takes the reader on a journey through St Petersburg, to the beautiful Swiss Alps, to the desolate waste of the Arctic Circle, in a story that has sent a chill down the spines of generations.

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