In Search of Mary Shelley: The Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein

Fiona Sampson (Author)


We know the facts of Mary Shelley's life in some detail--the death of her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, within days of her birth; the upbringing in the house of her father, William Godwin, in a house full of radical thinkers, poets, philosophers, and writers; her elopement, at the age of seventeen, with Percy Shelley; the years of peripatetic travel across Europe that followed. But there has been no literary biography written this century, and previous books have ignored the real person--what she actually thought and felt and why she did what she did--despite the fact that Mary and her group of second-generation Romantics were extremely interested in the psychological aspect of life.

In this probing narrative, Fiona Sampson pursues Mary Shelley through her turbulent life, much as Victor Frankenstein tracked his monster across the arctic wastes. Sampson has written a book that finally answers the question of how it was that a nineteen-year-old came to write a novel so dark, mysterious, anguished, and psychologically astute that it continues to resonate two centuries later. No previous biographer has ever truly considered this question, let alone answered it.

Product Details

$18.95  $17.43
Pegasus Books
Publish Date
November 12, 2019
BISAC Categories:

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

Fiona Sampson is a poet who has been shortlisted twice for the T.S. Eliot Prize and the Forward Prize. She has received the Cholmondeley Award, the Newdigate Prize, and the Writer's Award from the Arts Councils of England and of Wales, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and a Trustee of the Wordsworth Trust. Please visit her at


Mary's life has unending fascination. [Sampson's] goal is to 'bring Mary closer to us.' She sees Mary's turbulent life in the context of the Romantic Movement, and as part of an early wave of feminism that ended in the conservative Victorian era.
Plumbing her formative years as well as the depths of her psyche for clues, Sampson chronicles the circumstances and events that preceded her subject's extraordinarily imaginative leap into new literary horizons. [A] fascinating story of the inner workings and motivations of a genius well ahead of her time on the 200th anniversary of her masterpiece.
A perceptive biography. Sampson demonstrates why the story of Shelley and Frankenstein remains so intriguing, even today. The author deftly plumbs the depths of Mary's psyche to enlighten us about both Shelleys and reveal the profound effects they had on each other.
An incisive and emotionally resonant portrait of Mary Shelley. Succeeds in bringing an unconventional woman to vivid life.
Sampson focuses on key episodes that provide essential clues to understanding the author. Each episode is like a tile in a mosaic, beautifully crafted and essential to Shelley's complex portrait. Or, given Sampson's status as one of England's pre-eminent living poets, perhaps it is more apt to say that each chapter is like a stanza, resulting in a poetic exploration of one of the most influential novelists in English literature. Illuminates a woman whose genius enabled her not only to survive but also to triumph.