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About the Author: Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley (née Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, often known as Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley) was a British novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, travel writer, and editor of the works of her husband, Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley. She was the daughter of the political philosopher William Godwin and the writer, philosopher, and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.

Mary Shelley was taken seriously as a writer in her own lifetime, though reviewers often missed the political edge to her novels. After her death, however, she was chiefly remembered only as the wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley and as the author of Frankenstein. It was not until 1989, when Emily Sunstein published her prizewinning biography Mary Shelley: Romance and Reality, that a full-length scholarly biography analyzing all of Shelley's letters, journals, and works within their historical context was published.

The well-meaning attempts of Mary Shelley's son and daughter-in-law to "Victorianise" her memory through the censoring of letters and biographical material contributed to a perception of Mary Shelley as a more conventional, less reformist figure than her works suggest. Her own timid omissions from Percy Shelley's works and her quiet avoidance of public controversy in the later years of her life added to this impression.

The eclipse of Mary Shelley's reputation as a novelist and biographer meant that, until the last thirty years, most of her works remained out of print, obstructing a larger view of her achievement. She was seen as a one-novel author, if that. In recent decades, however, the republication of almost all her writings has stimulated a new recognition of its value. Her voracious reading habits and intensive study, revealed in her journals and letters and reflected in her works, is now better appreciated. Shelley's recognition of herself as an author has also been recognized; after Percy's death, she wrote about her authorial ambitions: "I think that I can maintain myself, and there is something inspiriting in the idea". Scholars now consider Mary Shelley to be a major Romantic figure, significant for her literary achievement and her political voice as a woman and a liberal.


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Goodreads rating: 3.33

Paperback, Published in Feb 2010 by Gray Rabbit Publishing

ISBN10: 1604599359 | ISBN13: 9781604599350

Page count: 362

Mary Shelley founded modern science fiction with her 1816 classic Frankenstein. A decade later, she inaugurated the subgenre of post-apocalyptic sf with the less-lauded and less-known The Last Man. Shelley used the found-manuscript trope for this book, claiming to have discovered a series of seemingly connected stories on various pages in the Cumaean Sibyl's Cave, and stitched them together into this originally three-volume work. The story told here, of a far-future (late 21st century), is related by the last man, the sole survivor of a planet-wide plague that has brought an end to human civilization. The Last Man was published during a more optimistic time, and arrived on the scene to poor reviews and poor sales, it was a novel out of time. It languished for a century and a half, until its scholarly rediscovery in the 1960s, which had its own pessimistic outlook. Now, in an era where global disaster through causes seen or unforeseen becomes increasingly plausible, Shelley's tale of the "stormy and ruin-fraught passions of man" finds a new home, and a new audience. The Last Man is published here complete and unabridged, in one-volume, with Shelley's own footnotes and introduction. Mary Wollsteonecraft Godwin was born in 1797, the daughter of author Mary Wollstonecraft (who wrote Vindication of the Rights of Woman) and radical philosophy William Godwin. Raised by her father following her mother's early death, her education came through contact with her father's intellectual circle and her own reading. She met poet and author Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1812, married him in 1814, and, in response to a bet among her husband's circle of friends, wrote Frankenstein in 1816. Mary bore four children, three of whom died in infancy. Her husband died in 1822, and she returned to England with her surviving son to support herself as a writer of novel, short stories, and travelogues, and as the editor of her husband's works. She died in 1851.

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