MARY SHELLEY'S BIOGRAPHY
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was born in London in 1797 to radical philosopher, William Godwin, and Mary Wollstonecraft, author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Wollstonecraft died 11 days after giving birth, and young Mary was educated in the intellectual circles of her father's contemporaries. In 1814, at the age of seventeen, Mary met and fell in love with poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley. She ran away with him to France and they were married in 1816 after Shelley's wife committed suicide.
Percy Shelley was a prominent poet of the Romantic Movement along with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, and Shelley's friend, Lord Byron. As his wife and companion, Mary Shelley was exposed to the same influences as her husband, and this Romanticism influenced her work. Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein after Byron introduced a challenge to discern whom among the three writers --- Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley, and Byron himself -- could write the best ghost story.
The tumultuous French Revolution, which began before her birth, but had far-reaching echoes in society and literature, as well as the Industrial Revolution of England in the 18th Century, were influences on Mary Shelley's life and work. The mass production and dehumanization of the Industrial Revolution posed a threat to the Romantic ideals of the importance of the individual, the beauty of nature, and the emotional and free spirit. Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, can be seen as a protest against this scientific revolution.
Scientific progress was a large part of this century of discovery. Darwin, a leading scientific figure with his theories of evolution, was a personal friend of Shelley's husband, so science was not an ignored topic in her life. Advances in medicine and the need for cadavers also figured into the time in which Mary Shelley...