Growing up, Mary was surrounded by books and exposed to literary discussions among the likes of Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Hazlitt. Little wonder, she began writing at an early age. Mary’s life took a downward turn, however, when her father married for the second time as her stepmother supposedly favored her own children. The discord proved too much for Godwin who sent his daughter to board with friends.
Upon returning home at age fifteen, she first met Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was expelled from Oxford for writing a tract about atheism. In 1814, Shelley encountered Mary again, and though he was married, he became infatuated with Mary. They apparently spent time at her mother’s grave and became intimate. When Godwin found out, he tried to forbid the relationship. But after Shelley threatened to commit suicide, Mary ran away with him to France. But this was not the love match that we all love to read in modern romance novels. Many associate the 1960’s as the decade of free love, but Shelley certainly ascribed to it and took other lovers. He also encouraged Mary to enter a liaison with his friend Hogg, but she was pregnant and refused.
She endured money troubles and the loss of five children. After Shelley drowned in a boating accident, Mary published several other articles and books, but her Frankenstein has endured the test of time. She died in February 1851.