Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was born in 1797 to two writers, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. Mary’s mother died ten days after Mary was born, due to an infection caused by childbirth.
When Mary was four years old, her father remarried. As she grew into a teenager—and began to look like her mother—William’s wife became frustrated, and sent Mary to Scotland. Though Mary described her experience there as “blank and dreary,” the days inspired her life as a writer.
In 1812, Mary returned to England and met Percy Bysshe Shelley, a poet her father befriended. Percy was married, but he and Mary took interest in one another. In 1814, they ran away together on a tour of Europe.
Mary’s life was fraught with grief. All told, she had five children with only one surviving. She also buried her half sister, who died of suicide, and Percy, who died in a sailing accident.
Mary died at 53 due to a brain tumor. When her family cleared her writing desk, they found locks of her dead children’s hair, as well as a parcel of Percy’s cremated heart.
Frankenstein is her most known work, but Mary authored and edited many more novels, novellas, articles, and poems.