Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797-1851)

Mary is born in Somers Town, Great Britain, in 1797 to well-known parents: author and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and philosopher William Godwin. Unfortunately, Wollstonecraft dies as the result of Mary's birth. Mary is therefore raised by her father and a much resented stepmother. When Mary is sixteen she meets the young poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, a devotee of her father's teachings. Together with Mary's stepsister, they run off to continental Europe several times, not hindered by the fact that Shelley was already married.

In 1816, they go abroad again, this time spending time with Byron and his friend Polidori in Geneva. There Byron suggests that they should all write a ghost story. Mary writes Frankenstein, the only story of the four that was ever to be published as a novel. Later that same year, Percy's wife drowns herself: Percy and Mary marry in December 1816. The last years of married life are filled with disaster for Mary. Her half sister dies as do two of her children. Mary becomes depressed, a tendency she probably inherited from her mother. She is only partly relieved by the birth of Percy, their only surviving child.