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About the Author
Mary Shelley (1797-1851) was an English novelist. Born the daughter of William Godwin, a novelist and anarchist philosopher, and Mary Wollstonecraft, a political philosopher and pioneering feminist, Shelley was raised and educated by Godwin following the death of Wollstonecraft shortly after her birth. In 1814, she began her relationship with Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, whom she would later marry following the death of his first wife, Harriet. In 1816, the Shelleys, joined by Mary's stepsister Claire Clairmont, physician and writer John William Polidori, and poet Lord Byron, vacationed at the Villa Diodati near Geneva, Switzerland. They spent the unusually rainy summer writing and sharing stories and poems, and the event is now seen as a landmark moment in Romanticism. During their stay, Shelley composed her novel Frankenstein (1818), Byron continued his work on Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (1812-1818), and Polidori wrote "The Vampyre" (1819), now recognized as the first modern vampire story to be published in English. In 1818, the Shelleys traveled to Italy, where their two young children died and Mary gave birth to Percy Florence Shelley, the only one of her children to survive into adulthood. Following Percy Bysshe Shelley's drowning death in 1822, Mary returned to England to raise her son and establish herself as a professional writer. Over the next several decades, she wrote the historical novel Valperga (1923), the dystopian novel The Last Man (1826), and numerous other works of fiction and nonfiction. Recognized as one of the core figures of English Romanticism, Shelley is remembered as a woman whose tragic life and determined individualism enabled her to produce essential works of literature which continue to inform, shape, and inspire the horror and science fiction genres to this day.