Descripción de editorial
‘The most dazzling biography of a female writer to have come my way for a decade…' – Financial Times
‘To be savoured for its vivid and sympathetic recreation of the tragic life and brilliant times of the gifted Mary Shelley’ – Times Literary Supplement
‘Brilliant and enthralling' – Independent On Sunday
'Wonderfully vivid' – Spectator
The definitive and richly woven biography of Mary Shelley, in celebration of the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein
The creator of the world’s most famous outsider became one herself . . .
There is no more dramatic scene in literary history than the stormy night by Lake Geneva when Byron, Claire Clairmont, Polidori and the Shelleys met to talk of horror and the unexplained. From that emerged Frankenstein, a monster who has haunted imaginations for two hundred years.
Miranda Seymour illustrates the rich and unexplored life of Mary Shelley. Everything from her childhood to her tempestuous relationship with Percy Shelley; Seymour brings to life the brilliant mind that created Frankenstein through unexplored and intriguing sources.
The Mary Shelley we meet here is a woman we can engage with and understand. Her world, so rich in its settings and its cast of characters, seems drawn from a novel. She, at its centre, is flawed, brave, generous, and impetuous, a woman whose dark and brilliant imagination gave us a myth which seems ever more potent in our own era.
Twenty-five years ago, Seymour wrote a historical novel based on Lord Byron's life that reflected the prevailing view of Mary Shelley, the willful child-bride who, briefly touched by her husband's genius, produced one extraordinary work before sinking back into her native mediocrity and conventionality. Now, in this splendid biography, Seymour makes handsome amends. The Mary Shelley who emerges here is a remarkably mature and steady woman who suffered greatly, first from her erratic husband's self-absorption and then from losing three of her four children before she turned 25. Close to penniless after her husband's death by drowning, she successfully turned to hack work to support her son, her father and his second wife. In her vulnerable position as an unmarried woman making her own living, widely viewed as scandalous and immoral, she was frequently the target of slander. Throughout it all, she remained quick to speak out in defense of women like herself, who had struck out for personal freedom and been condemned for it. The tangle of irregular sexual connections, illegitimacy and adultery that characterized Shelley's circle of literary friends will surprise readers unfamiliar with early Victorian manners, as will the modern-sounding postmortem spin placed on Mary's and Percy's respective reputations. Nor is Frankensteinneglected, as Seymour convincingly argues for its roots in Mary's detestation of slavery and uncovers biographical sources for some of its scenes. Her primary concern, however, is the whole life of her subject, whom she admires deeply and whom she presents as flawed but heroic.