Born on 30th August 1797, Mary was the daughter of philosopher William Godwin, and the famous women’s rights advocate and author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollstonecraft. Mary Shelley’s radical, intellectual pedigree was visible from an early age and she was described by her father as “singularly bold, somewhat imperious, and active of mind”.
In 1814 when Mary was just 16, despite her father’s objections to her married suitor, she eloped to Switzerland with the romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Percy was born in Warnham, Sussex and his father Sir Timothy Shelley was MP for Horsham from 1790-92. Mary herself briefly lived at Field Place, Warnham as well as Castle Goring near Worthing.
Mary Shelley began writing her debut novel in 1816, when she was just 18 years old. Frankenstein was first published two years later in 1818. Despite its advanced age, the story still has relevance for modern readers. Considered to be one of the earliest science fiction novels, from the moment it was published, until the present day, Mary’s story has featured in magazines, comics, plays, films, television.
Our family-friendly summer exhibition will tell the story of Mary Shelley’s famous monster, a tale that still chills and entertains 200 years after its publication. Using fascinating items from the collections, and animatronic models, this exhibition will explore Mary’s life, work and relationships, and how she came to write the one of the most iconic novels in history, Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus.
The engraving was used as the frontispiece for the 1831 edition of Frankenstein, and is the first ever depiction of the Monster