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Mary Shelley was born in London on 30 August 1797. Her mother, the celebrated feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft, died a few days after her birth.Her father, William Godwin, a well-known anarchist and atheist writer, tutored Mary. In 1814, when she was sixteen, she fell in love with the married poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and they eloped to France. In 1816 the couple travelled to Lake Geneva to spend the summer with the poet Byron. Mary was inspired to write Frankenstein after Byron arranged a ghost story competition during their stay. In the autumn of 1816 Shelley's pregnant wife drowned herself in the Serpentine in Hyde Park and Shelley immediately married Mary. The couple had four children together but only one son survived infancy. They lived in Italy until Percy's death in a boating accident in 1822. Mary continued to write until her death in London on 1 February 1851. She is buried in Bournemouth.
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is one of the masterpieces of nineteenth-century Gothicism. While stay-ing in the Swiss Alps in 1816 with her lover Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, and others, Mary, then eighteen, began to concoct the story of Dr. Victor Frankenstein and the monster he brings to life by electricity. Written in a time of great personal tragedy, it is a subversive and morbid story warning against the dehumanization of art and the corrupting influence of science. Packed with allusions and literary references, it is also one of the best thrillers ever written. Frankenstein; Or, the Modern Prometheus was an instant bestseller on publication in 1818. The prototype of the science fiction novel, it has spawned countless imitations and adaptations but retains its original power. This Modern Library edition includes a new Introduction by Wendy Steiner, the chair of the English department at the University of Pennsylvania and author of The Scandal of Pleasure. Mary Shelley was born Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin in 1797 in London. She eloped to France with Shelley, whom she married in 1816. After Frankenstein, she wrote several novels, including Valperga and Falkner, and edited editions of the poetry of Shelley, who had died in 1822. Mary Shelley died in London in 1851.