Mary Shelley is one of the legendary figures profiled in Science Channel's documentary series "Prophets of Science Fiction."

Mary Shelley set out to create a monster. Along the way she created a masterpiece.

In 1816, teenaged Mary begins stitching together a patchwork of ancient legend, modern technology, and personal tragedy, ultimately giving life to her novel, "Frankenstein," and the genre of science fiction.

The daughter of Mary Wollestonecraft, the ardent feminist and author of "A Vindication on the Right of Women," and William Goodwin, the Radical-anarchist philosopher and author of "Lives of the Necromancers," Mary Goodwin was born into a freethinking, revolutionary household in London on August 30,1797. Educated mainly by her intellectual surroundings, she had little formal schooling and at sixteen eloped with the young poet Percy Bysshe Shelley; they eventually married in 1816.

Mary Shelley's life had many tragic elements. Her mother died giving birth to Mary; her half-sister committed suicide; Harriet Shelley — Percy's wife drowned heself and her unborn child after he ran off with Mary. William Goodwin disowned Mary and Shelley after their elopement, but — heavily in debt — recanted and came to them for money; Mary's first child died soon after its birth; and in 1822 Percy Shelley drowned in the Gulf of La Spezia — when Mary was not quite 25.

Shelley recalled that her husband was "forever inciting" her to "obtain literary reputation." But she did not begin to write seriously until the summer of 1816, when she and Shelley were in Switzerland, neighbor to Lord Byron. One night following a contest to compose ghost stories, Mary conceived her masterpeice, "Frankenstein." After Shelley's death she continued to write "Valperga" (1823), "The Last Man" (1826), "Ladore" (1835), and "Faulkner" (1837), in addition to editing her husband's works. In 1838 she began to work on his biography, but owing to poor health she completed only a fragment.

Although she received marriage proposals from Trelawney, John Howard Payne, and perhaps Washington Irving, Shelley never remarried. "I want to be Mary Shelley on my tombstone," she is reported to have said. She died on February 1, 1851, survived by he son, Percy Florence.


How old is she? Find out here.

Age: 220 years old
Birthday: August 30, 1797
Full Name / Real Name: Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin
Birthplace: London, England, UK
Husband: Percy Bysshe Shelley (12/30/1816 - 7/8/1822, his death)

'Prophets of Science Fiction' Connects Fact to Fiction — Premiering Wednesday, February 15, the new season will see Ridley Scott profiling the legendary Isaac Asimov, Jules Verne, Robert Heinlein and George Lucas. Read more...

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