‘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.
Miranda Seymour, author of the award-winning In My Father's House has written many acclaimed novels and biographies, including lives of Mary Shelley, Robert Graves, Ottoline Morrell and Helle Nice, the Bugatti Queen.
‘Themost dazzling biography of a female writer to have come my way for a decade… Here, for the first time, Shelley steps off the page as a living, thinking, suffering woman, fraught and caught in the web of her own intelligence.’
– Jackie Wullschlager, 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, this portrait illuminates Mary’s life in many unexpected ways.’
– Independent On Sunday
‘A wonderfully vivid, human and learned portrait of the woman who created Frankenstein, married Shelley, and, amazingly, survived.’
'Mary Shelley, Miranda Seymour’s affectionate and well-written biography, concisely sketches the background of scientific inquiry that influenced Shelley’s early intellectual development… Seymour keenly brings out how fraught Mary Shelley’s own life was with tragedies of childbirth and infant mortality… In 1818, the Shelleys moved to Italy…where Byron now was. They formed a tense and inbred circle, sharply evoked by Seymour: the women eyeing each other jealously, each serially or simultaneously in love with Shelley or Byron or both… Miranda Seymour is a novelist as well as an experienced biographer… She has vivid narrative gifts and a perceptive understanding of the main personalities.'
– New York Times Notable Books, The New York Times
– The New Yorker
'Miranda Seymour’s lucid biography arrives as the general reader’s guide to Mary Shelley’s ascent to academic cult status… Seymour is persuasive.'
– The Guardian
'Gracefully sweeping through the dramatic life of the woman behind history’s most legendary monster, Miranda Seymour unbuttons a world of brilliant literary figures in Mary Shelley and re-creates the imaginative time in which Frankenstein was born… The Mary we meet here, brilliantly brought to life by Seymour from previously unexplored sources, is flawed, brave, generous, and impetuous.'
'I envy any reader of this excellent biography who happens not to be very familiar with the lives of Shelley and the girl who eloped with him when she was sixteen.'
– Diana Athill, The Oldie
'The most thorough account of Shelley’s life…eminently readable.'
'A harrowing life, wonderfully retold.'
– Washington Post Best Books of the Year, The Washington Post Book World
'Seymour is adept at capturing the cultural climate and social context of the early nineteenth century in the major English and Italian settings of Shelley’s life story. She has done hard and valuable work in finely combining the correspondence of the many players in this story, and reconstructing the likeliest version of events---no mean feat with a circle, such as Shelley’s, that was rife with contention, backbiting and self-promotion.'
– The Baltimore Sun
'One of the finest and most significant biographies of recent years.'
– Library Journal
'Seymour’s book is a timeless representation of a woman who endured skewed public perceptions about herself and her loved ones.'
– Commercial Appeal
'Mary’s tragic life story makes for a biography as intriguing as her masterpiece.'
– The Oregonian
'Seymour’s scrupulous, almost anxiously tender portrait peels away the myths like layers of tissue paper shrouding a lost relic. This is a fine biography that gives us the dense background to Mary Shelley’s work while losing none of the searing glamour and pain of her sad, extraordinary life.'
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