Mary Shelley: The Exceptional Woman

Mary Shelley
by Richard Rothwell, 1839-40

"As a child I scribbled; and my favourite pastime, during the hours given me for recreation, was to 'write stories.' Still I had a dearer pleasure than this, which was the formation of castles in the air -- the indulging in waking dreams -- the following up trains of thought, which had for their subject the formation of a succession of imaginary incidents. My dreams were at once more fantastic and
agreeable than my writings."
-Mary Shelley in an Introduction to Frankenstein, Third Edition (1831)

Mary Shelley was an exceptional woman of the 19th century who went against the constraints of proper womanhood and lived a spontaneous life full of love and intellect among heartbreak and pitfalls. Through her education, intellectual influences, family and friends, and feelings about Rousseau, Mary Shelley developed into the unusual and thought provoking woman she was when she wrote Frankenstein in 1817. As Mary Shelley grew older, however, she abandoned her carefree attitude towards life and attempted to conform to the proper standards for a lady in the 1800s. From her youthful days of energy and adventure, to her lonely life after her husband died, Mary Shelley experienced many life altering events.

Copyright 2002: History 257 - Mount Holyoke College
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