Author of Frankenstein and wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley. Lived in Marlow 1817-1818
Link with the Chilterns
Lived in Marlow 1817-1818
30th August 1797
1st February 1851
Mary Shelley was born Mary Godwin, the daughter of the political philosopher William Godwin and the feminist and philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft. In 1814 she met the romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and they fell in love. Despite the fact that Percy was already married they eloped to Italy, but returned to England after a few weeks.
At the end of 1816 Percy’s estranged wife committed suicide and a few weeks later he and Mary were married. In March 1817 they moved to Albion House in West Street, Marlow.
Mary had conceived the idea for her novel, Frankenstein, the previous summer and during their time in Marlow she completed writing it. It was published anonymously in January 1818. In Marlow she also edited the joint journal of their 1814 continental journey, adding material written in Switzerland in 1816, and also Percy’s poem Mont Blanc. The result was the History of a Six Weeks Tour published in November 1817.
In 1818 the Shelleys moved to Italy and four years later, in 1822, Percy was drowned in a sailing accident. After a year Mary returned to London with her one surviving child, Percy, and devoted much of her time to compiling and publishing her husband’s works. She died from a brain tumour on February 1st 1851.
Wikipedia entry on Mary Shelley’s life and works
The Godwins and the Shelleys: A Biography of a Family by William St.Clair, published by Faber & Faber 1996.
What you can visit
Albion House, West Street, Marlow, now named Shelley Cottages.
The Marlow Town Tour, in a publication by the Marlow Society, is a circular walk which takes you past Shelley Cottages.