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Mary Shelley

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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  138 ratings  ·  21 reviews
In some ways, she could hardly fail. Daughter of William Godwin (An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice) and Mary Wollstonecraft (A Vindication of the Rights of Woman), and wife of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley had literary radicalism in her blood and her bed. Inspired by a stormy night of ghost stories on Lake Geneva, where she, her husband, Byron and John ...more
Hardcover, 655 pages
Published January 28th 2000 by John Murray Publishers (first published 2000)
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Wealhtheow
Mary Wollstonecraft was a passionately political woman; her essays A Vindication of the Rights of Man and its follow up, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, made her justly famous, particularly in intellectual circles. After a disastrous love affair (from which issued A Short Residence in Sweden Norway and Denmark and her natural daughter, Fanny Imlay), Wollstonecraft fell in love with William Godwin. Godwin was well known himself, particularly for Enquiry concerning Political Justice. Althoug ...more
W.B.
I'm reading this slowly and really savoring it. The biographer is a masterful writer and researcher, and this work also contains in-depth portraits of Shelley's extremely influential parents (William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft) and many of the literary luminaries (Coledrige, Lamb, etc.) who were intimates and influences in their circle. Many of these intellectuals were born or bred firebrands, and I find this books is disabusing me of the notion that these thinkers aspired to or achieved pro ...more
Andrew
I've read biographies about the "Shelley/Byron circle" before, but those usually stop somewhere after the deaths of Shelley, Byron and Keats. This is the first time I've read a full biography focusing on Mary Shelley.

She emerges here as a very tragic, flawed character: intelligent, misunderstood, gullible, compassionate and forgiving to a fault, loyal, gifted without being self-centered, and independently-minded among other qualities. There did seem to be a clear bias in favor of Mary against he
...more
Sonia
I'm not exactly sure how to go about rating biographies. I'm not particularly a fan of non-fiction and I definitely think it's a genre that is a little harder to rate than fiction. This is due to many factors, the primary one being that there is no way I can verify or dispute the veracity of the text. The primary reason I read biographies is to find out more about authors or people in which I'm interested. Since, for me, this is the determining factor on which to judge the quality of a biography ...more
Margaret
Jun 02, 2010 Margaret rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Moira
The writing is on the dry side, but the research is good and Seymour is clear about speculative vs. supported statements. I ended up quite convinced by her interpretation of MWS as a depressive who constantly struggled against feelings of guilt for the death of her mother, Shelley's first wife, and Shelley himself.
Barb
Frankenstein is one of my all-time favorite horror novels, but I knew nothing about its author. I was surprised to read that her parents were both radicals of their day, sharing extremely non-conformist views of social reform in the early 19th century. Her mother, in particular, was one of the earliest feminists and wrote a brilliant and scathing essay on the matter.

Enter Mary, the rather plain but well read and educated daughter of political activists, searching for her place in the world. Unfo
...more
Christia
After reading Byron in Love I became more interested in the Shelleys, particularly Mary. I enjoyed what I read but this was so all encompassing and moved rather slowly, so eventually I gave up.
Chris
Seymour writes well and engaging. The biography presents Mary in a fair; in other words, she is not presented as a saint.
Leslie
Well written. Honest. Objective. Hope to read more from Miranda Seymour!
Elizabeth Olson
Dreadful fictionalized biography of pre-Frankenstein Mary Shelley. Skip.
Jim Dooley
I read this book to learn more "behind the story" information about one of my favorite books, FRANKENSTEIN. In that aspect, I received exactly what I had sought. My future readings of FRANKENSTEIN are certain to be enhanced by the revelations, including a heightened awareness of which version of the book I'm reading, and why the changes occurred.

That being said, this was one of the most difficult books I've ever read. The issue is not the writing, although it does lean a bit toward the academic
...more
Missy
Not something I could zip off in a few days, but given the subject matter, that's appropriate. I picked this up on the recommendation of a friend after having gotten hooked on the reality of Mary's life while reading Hideous Love and was drawn in enough to renew my library copy multiple times (and then beg for an extension in person.) I'm categorizing this along with Kendall's Richard III as biographies that knocked me out of the standard view of the person involved.
Chasity
Very interesting life told in a very entertaining way. I've read lots of complaints that this book is dry and that the chronology is weird, but I didn't have that problem with it. The only complaint I can really see people having with it is that the author makes a lot of assumptions about the activities engaged in by the author for purpose of narration which I can see hurting credibility a little bit but are precisely what makes it NOT dry.

I liked that the author gave us a good look at the time
...more
Nancy
This book about Mary Shelley and her milieu is fascinating and horrifying at once. Horrifying, not because of her tale of Frankenstein's monster but because of the status of women. The women who tried to change the mores of the day, including Mary's mother Mary Wollstonecraft, seemed to suffer even more than the general female populace. But like one drawn to a fire, the reader can hardly pull away from this account of the times.
Matthew
I think Mary and Percy Shelley are fascinating people but this biography spends too much time on details that could have been left out. Ultimately, it wasn't worth the slog. I will, however, happily read more of Percy's brilliant poetry. And I'm glad to have read the best moments of this book - the genesis of Frankenstein, Mary's reading list and the happenings of her who's who circle of literary friends.
Monica
Not very well written and difficult to follow at times. I managed to get through it but it took me awhile and I don't know that it was worth the effort. I found Mary to be likable as person and I don't think the book managed to explain why so many people that Mary knew didn't like her! Everyone seemed to dislike and turn against her for no seemingly good reason.
Brett Wood
Didn't finish it. Really like the first half of the book, but once Shelley died, it was less about what I was interested in; her travels through Italy, her writing of Frankenstein, etc...
Madeleine McLaughlin
A very good bio of Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein. From her first days right up to the last, the author has researched thoroughly her subject. A great read.
Soaring Seahawk
It was cool to read about the past and how people may have lived. It can get a little boring after awhile.
M.A.
I'm interested in the lady behind the first monster story.
Patty
A definitive biography of Mary Shelley.
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