Author: Mary Shelley
Shelley, Mary (Wollstonecraft) 1797-1851 Novelist, biographer and editor. The only daughter of William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, who died a few days after her birth, she was brought up by her father and stepmother. At 16 she ran away to France and Switzerland with Shelley, marrying him in 1816 on the death of his wife Harriet. Her most famous work, Frankenstein, or, The Modem Prometheus (1818), was begun on Lake Geneva in the summer of 1816 as her contribution to ghost-story competition devised by Byron, Shelley and Byron's friend Polidon. In 1818 the Shelleys left England for Italy, where they remained until Shelley's death in 1822. Of their children only one, Percy Florence, survived infancy, and in 1823 Mary returned with him to England, where she devoted herself to his welfare and education and to her career as a writer. None of her later novels matched the power, originality, and mythical sweep of her legendary first work.