Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

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Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft,

1797–1851, English author; daughter of William GodwinGodwin, William,
1756–1836, English author and political philosopher. A minister in his youth, he was, however, plagued by religious doubts and gave up preaching in 1783 for a literary career.
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 and Mary WollstonecraftWollstonecraft, Mary
, 1759–97, English author and feminist, b. London. She was an early proponent of educational equality between men and women, expressing this radical opinion in Thoughts on the Education of Daughters (1786).
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. In 1814 she fell in love with the poet Percy Bysshe ShelleyShelley, Percy Bysshe
, 1792–1822, English poet, b. Horsham, Sussex. He is ranked as one of the great English poets of the romantic period. A Tempestuous Life
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, accompanied him abroad, and after the death of his first wife in 1816 married him. Her most notable contribution to literature is her novel of terror, Frankenstein, published in 1818. It is the story of a German student who learns the secret of infusing life into inanimate matter and creates a monster that ultimately destroys him. Included among her six other novels are Valperga (1823), The Last Man (1826), and the partly autobiographical Lodore (1835). After Shelley's death in 1822, she devoted herself to caring for her aged father and educating her only surviving child, Percy Florence Shelley. In 1839–40 she edited her husband's works.


See her journal (ed. by F. L. Jones, 1947); her letters (ed. by M. Spark and D. Stamford, 1953); biographies by M. Spark (1951, repr. 1988), N. B. Gerson (1973), M. Seymour (2001), and F. Sampson (2018); C. Gordon, Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley (2015); studies by W. A. Walling (1972), E. Sunstein (1989), and R. Montillo (2013).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft


Born Aug. 30, 1797, in London; died there Feb. 1, 1851. English writer. Daughter of W. Godwin; wife of P. B. Shelley.

The hero of Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus (1818; Russian translation, 1965) creates a monster that tries to do good, but, embittered by loneliness, kills its creator. A gloomy picture of the coming downfall of mankind through epidemics and starvation is at the center of her novel The Last Man (1826). Shelley also wrote the autobiographical novel Lodore (1835) and commentaries to a posthumous edition of works by P. B. Shelley (1839).


The Letters of Mary Shelley, vols. 1–2. Norman, Okla., 1944–46.
Mary Shelley’s Journal. Norman, Okla., 1947.


Bel’skii, A. A. Angliiskii roman 1800–1810-x gg. Perm’, 1968.
Spark, M. Child of Light. Hadleigh, Essex, 1951.
Small, C. Ariel Like a Harpy. London, 1972.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Each cast member brought their characters to life, however two actors stand out: Kristin Atherton portrayed Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin exactly as I felt she should be - ambitious and adventurous, with passion in her core - while Shannon Tarbet provided an excitingly energetic Jane "Claire" Clairmont, with character traits that match those commonly known to have been displayed by Clairmont herself.
At the time of his death he was working on an ambitious monograph entitled "Geneva in 1816: A Group Biography," a study of Lord Byron, Claire Clairmont, Matthew Gregory Lewis, John William Polidori, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (later Shelley), and Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Myers's 'Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley: The Female Author between Public and Private Spheres' starts out with a cogent critique of the limits to binarism, still so prevalent in traditional feminist criticism with its a priori commitment to a public male sphere and a private female one, and provides a persuasive case for the need of a better understanding of the sociopolitical and literary cultures of Mary Shelley's time.
(4) Anonymous [Archibald Hamilton Rowan?], A Defence of the Character and Conduct of the Late Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (London: Wallis, 1803), in Lives of the Great Romantics III: Godwin, Wollstonecraft, & Mary Shelley By their Contemporaries, 3 vols., ed.
A year later Shelley fell in love with Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, and the two eloped to France, taking with them Mary's stepsister Jane (later Claire) Clairmont.