Mary’s Monster: Love, Madness and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein

Publisher: Wren & Rook

Review

Most people know that Mary Shelley wrote the novel Frankenstein, but the common perception that she dreamed up this story as part of a parlour game with poets Shelley and Byron is misleading. In fact, the book's themes of birth, creation and science versus nature were very much a combination of her own experiences of pregnancy, birth and death, as well as developments in science and philosophy.

In her stupendously illustrated verse novel, Lita Judge reminds us that Mary was a teenager when she wrote Frankenstein, having run away pregnant with the married Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley – enduring his depression and infidelities over many years.

Judge also shows us that Mary, the child of feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and political philosopher William Godwin, was a vastly intelligent and well-read young woman who also followed her heart, just as they had done.

The book contains some challenging and adult themes of infant death and unfaithfulness in marriage, but they are handled well within the context of the real life of an important woman, feminist and writer.

It’s a heart-wrenching read in parts, and a deeply inspiring one in others.

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