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(8/30/1797 to 2/1/1851) The only daughter of William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary met a young poet Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1812 and eloped with him to France in July of 1814. The couple were married two years later, after Shelley’s first wife had committed suicide. After Percy Shelley’s death in 1822, she returned to England and devoted herself to publicizing Shelley’s writings and to educating their only surviving child, Percy Florence Shelley. She published her late husband’s Posthumous Poems (1824); she also edited his Poetical Works (1839), with long and invaluable notes, and his prose works. Her Journal provides a rich source for Shelley’s biography.

Mary Shelley’s best-known book is Frankenstein (1818, revised on 1831), a text that is part Gothic novel and part philosophical novel. It is also often considered an early example of science fiction documenting the consequences that arise after a scientist artificially creates a human being. She wrote several other novels, including Valperga (1823), The Fortunes of Perkin Warbeck (1830), Lodore (1835), and Falkner (1837); and The Last Man (1826), an account of the future destruction of the human race by a plague. The Last Man is often ranked as her best work. She also wrote several travel books based on her personal journeys. Some of Mary’s casual writings and journals were published later in the 20th century by others.

“Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos.”

“It is justice, not charity, that is wanting in the world.”

“Every political good carried to the extreme must be productive of evil.”

“Nothing contributes so much to tranquilize the mind as a steady purpose – a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye.”