Fact of the day: 30th August

On this day in 1797 Mary Shelley, English author and playwright (d. 1851) was born.

Mary Shelley was born Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin in Somers Town, London, in 1797. She was the second child of the feminist philosopher, educator, and writer Mary Wollstonecraft, and the first child of the philosopher, novelist, and journalist William Godwin. Wollstonecraft died of puerperal fever ten days after Mary was born.

Since Frankenstein was published anonymously in 1818, readers and critics argued over its origins and the contributions of the two Shelleys to the book.download (5)

There are differences in the 1818, 1823, and 1831 editions, and Mary Shelley wrote, “I certainly did not owe the suggestion of one incident, nor scarcely of one train of feeling, to my husband, and yet but for his incitement, it would never have taken the form in which it was presented to the world.” She wrote that the preface to the first edition was Percy’s work “as far as I can recollect.”

James Rieger concluded Percy’s “assistance at every point in the book’s manufacture was so extensive that one hardly knows whether to regard him as editor or minor collaborator” while Anne K. Mellor later argued Percy only “made many technical corrections and several times clarified the narrative and thematic continuity of the text.”

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