In Search of Mary Shelley The Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein

In Search of Mary Shelley The Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein[Reading] ➶ In Search of Mary Shelley The Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein Author Fiona Sampson – We know the facts of Mary Shelley’s life in some detail—the death of her mother Mary Wollstonecraft within days of her birth; the upbringing in the house of her father William Godwin in a house fu We know the facts of Mary MOBI í of Mary Shelley’s life in some detail—the death of her mother Mary Wollstonecraft within days of her birth; the upbringing in the house of her father William Godwin in a house full of radical thinkers poets philosophers and writers; her elopement at the age of seventeen with Percy In Search PDF/EPUB or Shelley; the years of peripatetic travel across Europe that followed But there has been no literary biography written this century and previous books have ignored the real person—what she actually thought and felt and why she did what she did—despite the fact that Mary and her group of second generation Romantics were extremely Search of Mary PDF/EPUB » interested in the psychological aspect of lifeIn this probing narrative Fiona Sampson pursues Mary Shelley through her turbulent life much as Victor Frankenstein tracked his monster across the arctic wastes Sampson has written a book that finally answers the uestion of how it was that a nineteen year old came to write a Search of Mary Shelley The MOBI :¼ novel so dark mysterious anguished and psychologically astute that it continues to resonate two centuries later No previous biographer has ever truly considered this uestion let alone answered it. This book will always hold a special place in my heart I attended a reading at Shakespeare and Company the most famous English bookshop in Paris where Fiona Sampson read and discussed her work In Search of Mary Shelley It was a truly magical evening that I will never forget And if that wasn't good enough Fiona signed my book that day Like what? Prior to this I didn't own any signed books So yeah I managed to cross out two things from my bucket list and In Search of Mary Shelley will always be a proof of that Fiona Sampson wrote a biography that is both heartfelt yet objective at the same time You can tell that facts were most important to her and if there were differing accounts of the same event Fiona always made sure to be transparent on that front with the reader There's no bullshit in here However at times Fiona didn't manage to hold back her own personal opinion and her subtle roasts of Percy the ass was the best thing this biography offered I was fucking shooketh I wish Fiona was my aunt with whom I could discuss the literary greats Her sense of humour is awesome and exactly my cup of tea I need her to spill tea for me And boy is there tea when it comes to Mary Shelley's life Strap your seat belt and prepare for a lot of death and pining Like so much death I am still shocked that one person lived through the maternal death of her mother multiple miscarriages the suicide of her sister the drowing of her husband and that doesn't even begin to cover the other tribulations that Mary had to face in her life like her husband being the total manwhore and not understanding of her depression her dad who reprimanded her for actually living what he only dared to preach like GROW SOME BALLS GODWIN and her friends turning from her after Percy drowned This woman I am in awe that she stood strong or at least semi strong through all of that Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was an English novelist short story writer dramatist essayist biographer and travel writer best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus 1818 She also edited and promoted the works of her husband the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley Her father was the political philosopher William Godwin and her mother was the philosopher and feminist Mary WollstonecraftIn 1814 Mary began a romance with one of her father's political followers Percy Bysshe Shelley who was already married Together with Mary's stepsister Claire Clairmont Mary and Shelley left for France and travelled through Europe Upon their return to England Mary was pregnant with Percy's child Over the next two years she and Percy faced ostracism constant debt and the death of their prematurely born daughter They married in late 1816 after the suicide of Percy Shelley's first wife HarrietIn 1816 the couple famously spent a summer with Lord Byron John William Polidori and Claire Clairmont near Geneva Switzerland where Mary conceived the idea for her novel Frankenstein The Shelleys left Britain in 1818 for Italy where their second and third children died before Mary Shelley gave birth to her last and only surviving child Percy Florence Shelley In 1822 her husband drowned when his sailing boat sank during a storm near Viareggio A year later Mary Shelley returned to England and from then on devoted herself to the upbringing of her son and a career as a professional author The last decade of her life was dogged by illness probably caused by the brain tumour that was to kill her at the age of 53 I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review To coincide with the 200th anniversary of the release of Frankenstein Fiona Sampson examines the inner influences and background of writer Mary Shelley I admit I know very little about Mary Shelley other than the fact that she married the famous poet Percy Shelley as a teenager and was widowed at a young age I have also never read Frankenstein but nevertheless I was intrigued to see what could possess a woman of this time to write something that is now considered a classic in an era where women simply weren't encouraged to write 'this kind' of novel I found this well researched and thorough Sampson manages to open up a notoriously private woman's life and fascinating past where she was surrounded by some great intellectual thinkers of the time It was great to see who or what influenced Mary to write her story She manages to bring life to a woman tormented by her many pregnancies and infant deaths and how her outpouring of grief and redemption comes in th form of writing At times these reads almost like a novel and that's what makes it so engaging It also flows well Most chapters set up a scene before dissecting the chapter with various facts and interesting discussions It's structured in such a way that it doesn't divert from the facts or diverge into various distracting sidestories which I appreciated I do think I would have benefitted from reading Frankenstein before reading this I think that's the main intention here and although I gained a lot of insight into Mary Shelley I would have gained having read her novel first I think I would have perhaps been 'into' this as well having done that as although I found the overall premise interesting I've found I'm maybe just not as interested in this time period as I am other periods of history This is purely a personal preference however That said this is a great introduction to Mary Shelley a character full of intrigue with a fascinating past Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley is remembered above all for creating a monster the grotesue but perceptive creature from her 1818 novel Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus – although at the time she was renown far for her scandalous behaviour Following her death in 1851 she was immortalized as widow of the doomed Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and as daughter of the founding feminist philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft and radical theoretician William Godwin For some years thereafter the bulk of Mary's literary output was tied up in a beribboned box marked 'lady scribbler' and neglected by all but her most committed devotees Modern readers of the Classics are generally familiar with the basics of her biography uite simply because there has been so much written about the influential literary and philosophical movement of which she was a part It is likely therefore you will be aware her mother died shortly after giving birth to Mary in 1797; that she outraged Regency England by 'eloping' with her married lover; and she lived an unconventional existence surrounded by some of the foremost writers and radical thinkers of the day In addition you are almost bound to have some knowledge of her being widowed in 1822 when Percy drowned in a boating accident off the Kingdom of Sardinia now Italy For uite some time however next to nothing was known of her inner life intellectual influences or sizeable body of literary works Muriel Spark did much to redress this bewildering neglect in her excellent 1988 life history Child of Light Mary Shelley but there is now an accessible insightful biography coming out in 2018 to coincide with Frankenstein's 200th anniversary celebrations British poet and writer Fiona Sampson MBE attempts to understand the intensely private young women behind a novel of obsession pride and hunger for love She endeavours to “bring Mary closer to us” ask what we know about “who and how and why she is” and “about how it is for her” For instance she examines how being pregnant and grieving over lost infants for a significant part of her married life reflected in Mary Shelley's writing; and wonders from where an eighteen year old girl living in such a misogynistic era developed the strength of character and prowess to compose a uniue Gothic masterpiece Sadly a trunk of her juvenilia was lost in Paris when she eloped in 1814 and many of her letters were subseuently destroyed but Sampson's detailed analysis raises a number of interesting uestions and she works hard to restore Mary's often maligned reputationWhile Percy was without doubt a talented enlightened beautiful wild child he could also be self serving fickle sexually incontinent and in many ways typical of his day in the treatment of women Mary was his intellectual eual but was seldom treated as such You can at times detect something of Sampson's exasperation at the selfish behaviour of the men and various female dependants in Mary's life In modern parlance we might well describe her a 'doormat'Mary survived her husband by almost thirty years supporting herself and their only remaining son Percy Florence with her pen She received little sympathy from those around her following the former's death with the possible exception of Lord Byron and for the most part was left to cope alone Nevertheless her groundbreaking horror novel is now recognised as a landmark work of science fiction and scholars regard her as being a major luminary of the Romantic movement In Search of Mary Shelley is an engaging and powerful portrait of a complex and often misrepresented figure Indeed it offers an ideal introduction to the life work and times of an extraordinary woman This book left me dissatisfied but I'm in a mood to be generous and award it five stars for lucidity readability and the fact that it provoked me to try and express my feelings about it in this reviewIt is not new to go In Search Of a towering literary figure I have at least one other In Search Of biography in this very room with me right now But it is nevertheless exceedingly apt apt with a poet's precision to be In Search of Mary Shelley And Fiona Sampson is a poet who writes with extraordinary attention to detail gleaning everything she can from every surviving sentence of Mary Shelley's novels journals and letters and those of her friends so the book actually lives up to its title Fiona Sampson is for sure a woman in search of Mary Shelley and she is searching for her very conscientiously in the enduring and compelling words that Mary Shelley wroteAnd I really sympathise with that search I share it I have been searching for a while I am searching than ever now after finishing this tantalising bookFor Mary Shelley is elusive She is still in a way anonymous She hides behind precise and evocative language She defies even the modern magnifying lens of scholarly scrutiny Some carping critics are still not entirely decided as they were undecided at the time how much of Frankenstein she wrote Or indeed who wrote which entry in the shared journal that she kept with that young firebrand she ran off withFiona Sampson believes I think in what she calls evidence based biography So she looks hard at the evidence But then she believes in adding a little bit of conjecture even fantasy wild surmise guesswork interpretation and opinionI like her for that It's done tactfully and respectfully Her opinions are very interesting and plausible And while I was imbibing them I started to form opinions of my own You can read many things into some of Mary Shelley's letters Her omissions too are suggestive Her motives in many key moments of her life are open to uestionIt is not that she is duplicitous Not at all She is I think courageously open principled and bold But she is also very shy very private very modest She shuns the limelight She draws a veil over many things even in her private journalBut she isn't afraid of anything and she throws herself into a passionate life with the man she loves and does right by him all the time that he is alive and all the long years following his deathI have the most devoted and indelible respect for Mary Shelley I have always been fascinated by her ever since many years ago I first opened a book of poems written by Percy Bysshe edited by her She writes captivating vignettes about their life together between those poems You can tell she adored him and cherishes his memory But she is also very sensitive respectful and objective This is very moving She honours him by staying true to his intentions in spite of the obvious pain it must give her reading back many of those linesBut it is very hard impossible to discover what she was really thinking most of the time Normally you can discover a writer's true spirit through her works But I even wonder how much of her novels and stories were as heartfelt and sincere as they might have been had she not felt so bereft felt so deserted betrayed even by her friends and familyFiona Sampson's intense slim volume does much to illuminate some of the dark corners of Mary's life But it is inviting rather than revelatory She shines her torch and says Look here is something fascinating but she doesn't rummage or despoil Go and read the letters Read the journals and novels and vignettes What do you make of it?Who was Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley really? Was her literary life the last stuttering of the revolutionary spark that her mother Mary Wollstonecraft ignited?I don't know But I am grateful to Fiona Sampson for making me feel much wiser than I was 10 days ago Oops I've just noticed the next episode of this online has expired I guess that makes this officially a DNFI was listening to the BBC Radio 4 abridged audio version I thought it would be interesting to at least vaguely listen to and learn a bit about Mary Shelley's life having recently re read Frankenstein and with it being the 200 year anniversary of its publicationHonestly it wasn't great and I think that's why I let it expire I had listened to the first two 15min episodes of 5 but was in no rush to continue You'd be better off skimming Mary Shelley's Wikipedia page It felt flat and dull failing to capture my attention and it just didn't have to be written that way Yes it's non fiction a biography but all of my favourite non fiction books are written fluidly and beautifully and this is definitely important for the reader to get the most out of what they're learning Indeed I don't think I learned much anyway not that I'm a Mary Shelley expert or anything and it felt like a list of events Worst of all the audiobook narrator was terrible; she spoke in a way that sounded incredibly patronising and for some reason when reading out their letters etc she decided to put on voices of people who had been really living I could not understand that decision at all and it was awful I found myself waiting for the letter or whatever it was to end so she'd stop with the voicesIn conclusion I think this audiobook edition was not up to BBC Radio 4's usual standards but I also don't feel the source book is that great I won't be reading it in full and cannot recommend it to others 45It's a brave biographer who sets out her stall so openly her object being to bring Mary closer to us and closer again until she's hugely enlarged in close up I want to see the actual texture of her existence caught in freeze frame and about how it is for herI hoped this wouldn't mean Sampson trying to answer unanswerable uestions with the inevitable plethora of 'we can assume' or 'she might have' Fortunately we don't get this Instead we get a well researched well written biography that is fresh and exciting despite covering ground considerably written about alreadyThe problem with any book about Mary's life is very simple The first half of it was exciting and the second half was very dull Nothing can ever change thatSo as Sampson readily acknowledges Mary's life with Shelley up to her widowhood is going to take up far literary space than the almost eual number of years she has after thisMy only slight peeve with the book is Sampson's knack of jumping ahead a few weeks in the story and then backfilling It didn't irritate me too much as I was pretty much aware of 'what happens' but it could be annoying for someone who knows little or nothing about Mary's life There are three strands to Mary Shelley’s life which biographer Fiona Sampson returns to again and again first there is the legacy of her famous feminist mother Mary Wollstonecraft ‘taking for granted the participation of women as intellectual euals’ p 154; then the influence of her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley whom Mary persists in thinking of a ‘soul mate’ despite much evidence to the contrary; and finally the work the writing and especially the extraordinary creation of Frankenstein written when Mary was only in her late teens It’s a life much steeped in legend and easily given over to mythologising As Sampson acknowledges Mary’s death confirms her in the ‘high rank in the aristocracy of genius’ but her life was marked by struggle of every kind and the three other ‘geniuses’ most enduringly associated with Mary were all notable for their various forms of abandonment and betrayal of her Mary’s famous mother died mere days after her birth and her famous father William Godwin or less rejected her first when he married her step mother Mary Jane Clairmont when she was only four years old and brutally when she ran away with Percy Shelley at the age of sixteen And then there is the poet Shelley What a cad Sampson refers to Shelley’s charisma over and over again; obviously he had the gift in life of attracting people and making them love him But that cult of personality truly does not jump off the page Instead Sampson creates a portrait of the poet as a monster of selfishness Mary and Percy’s decade together is an endless and exhausting whirl of moving houses and countries avoiding creditors managing poor health and Percy’s hypochondria and vegetarianism burying children and negotiating romantic entanglements Somehow in the midst of all this chaos the two writers also managed to read and write a great deal That aspect of their life fascinated me and suggest that Mary and Percy were both geniuses at compartmentalising their ‘art’ from their lives Sampson makes many many inferences in this biography and the majority of them seemed both clever and psychologically acute But she definitely has a style of inserting her detective work into the biography often in the style of overt musings and there were times when I thought she went too far and imagined too much in her creative reconstructions This was particularly bothersome to me in the beginning of the novel when Sampson has little to no first hand sources for her surmises All of Mary’s journals and letters from her childhood have disappeared or were destroyed; Sampson points out the strangeness of that in a household ‘built on paper’ Later Mary has the tendency of self editing of not referring to or barely mentioning the extraordinary emotional upheavals which were part and parcel of her life with Shelley Again Sampson has to sometimes imagine what Mary made of for instance her step sister Claire’s constant intrusion into her romantic and domestic life with Shelley If Mary post Percy devoted herself to the job of mourning widow and keeper of the Romantic flame and that seems to be the case then perhaps it is inevitable that the subseuent decades of Mary’s life fall a bit flat But was that actually the case or only the impression left by this biography? Sampson does make a stab at describing Mary’s life as the widow of the famous poet apparently Mary supported herself and her one surviving child Percy Florence by writing; she had a variety of friendships with both men and women some of them uite controversial; and she almost singlehandedly ran the Shelley estate in the last decade of her life And yet Mary’s life post Shelley is dealt with summarily and ‘reads’ like an anti climax Still those ten extraordinary years Mary’s life between the ages of 16 and 26 were surely amongst the most fascinating to be found in any biography and I was persuaded that Sampson has enlarged the subject of Frankenstein’s creator The “girl” of this sub title made a life altering decision at age 16 that set in motion a dizzying for its time and ours 8 year partnership with poet Percy Blythe Shelley Fiona Sampson traces Mary Shelley’s life with recurrent themes Mary as an orphan a disowned daughter a lonely wife a person used by relatives and hangers on and a dedicated writer and autodidactThis is a different kind of interpretive biography Besides being fully interior it is written in the present and future tenses A paraphrased example is “the children will die there but Mary doesn’t know this yet” Some significant events are added after the fact for instance in the Mary Percy “elopement” Sampson doesn’t note that three people ran away until Mary’s step mother appears in Calais to retrieve her daughter Jane Mary’s step sisterJane doesn't return with her mother and Mary Percy and Jane 3 very young people gad about Europe sometimes on foot renting houses having and burying children dealing or not dealing with family in England and writing translating and copying They join with other arts oriented expats and live together and apart Without regard for each other they freely love While Percy expects an inheritance for the present money is always an issue Mary seems to be the adult in the room She had been brought up in her father’s intellectual circles She had been sent to Scotland and learned to fend for herself This was some but surely not adeuate preparation for life with Percy ShelleyIn the 8 years with Shelley that ended with his death she lost a step sister to suicide; bore 4 children and buried 3; wrote Frankenstein travel books a few other novels; copied sounded like edited Percy’s works assisted her half sister in her pregnancy her dealings with the baby’s father and her grief upon the baby’s death; married Percy when his wife killed herself all the while moving often sometimes great distances Percy was busy too often away most likely with other women including Mary’s step sister sometimes with Lord Byron who was not the best influence for a portrait of how bad an influence he was see Lady Byron and Her DaughtersWhile Sampson brings modern psychology to her interpretation she does not mention PTSD from which Mary’s depression and all that follows has to have spawned Her famous mother died in her childbirth and her also famous father did some mentoring along with a host of undermining I’m guessing that Mary included the flirty flighty Jane in the elopement because at age 16 Jane was the only constant in her life Sampson has a good analysis of Mary's step mother but she is easy on her Mary's father and step sister Romantic Outlaws gives a scathing look at the how those closest to Mary both abandoned and hectored her for support You can see how Percy Shelley who is said to have great charms was irresistible to this 16 year old and perceived as both a friendhusband an adventure and a way out of a cold and unaffirming family situationThis short book captures a lot The writer knows the material and the times The plates are of pictures you want to see The index worked for me This is not a general biography It is recommended for those interested in Mary Shelley and know something of her story The information about Mary Shelley was great but I really struggled with the writing styleThe present tense narration felt strange for a non fiction book and the author romanticises her subject rather than presenting an unbiased view I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing it's just that I was expecting a impartial biography and this reads like very well researched historical fiction albeit without much of a story line It does allow Sampson to explore Mary's thoughts and feelings which made the book a little less dry but she jumps to conclusions based on the most spurious bits of evidenceFor example there's a chapter about Mary's early years that talks about what nursery songs she would have known based on the rhymes that were popular at the time We have no way of knowing if Mary even knew of these rhymes just because they were popular doesn't mean everyone had heard them yet the author seems to think they were fundamental to building Mary's later characterSampson also paints herself as an omnipotent narrator able to tell us exactly what the infant Mary was scared of Sometimes like every child her age she must be afraid of things she doesn't understand On winter nights even in the nursery the leaping shadows cast by the fire seem substantial than the candlelight Things get lost in their obscurity Every night her papa disappears in the darkness of downstairs Even her sister whose breathing she can hear in the other cot seems vast distances awayNow I agree that most children are scared of the dark but it's a bit of a leap to say that Mary 'must be afraid' and to imagine how far away she felt from her father and sister I'm not sure it adds anything to our understanding of Mary Shelley after all plenty of children have nightmares and don't go on to write widely acclaimed horror storiesIf you want a romanticised idea of Mary Shelley interspersed with details about her life then this book will suit you but for pedants like me you'll get hard facts from her Wikipedia page From BBC Radio 4 Book of the weekMary Shelley was brought up by her father in a house filled with radical thinkers poets philosophers and writers of the day Aged 16 she eloped with Percy Bysshe Shelley embarking on a relationship that was lived on the move across Britain and Europe She coped with debt infidelity and the deaths of three children before early widowhood changed her life forever Most astonishingly it was while still a teenager that she composed her novel Frankenstein creating two of our most enduring archetypes todayThe life story is well known But who was the woman who lived it?Mary Shelley left plenty of evidence and in this fascinating dialogue with the past Fiona Sampson sifts through letters diaries and records to find the real woman behind the story She uncovers a complex generous character friend intellectual lover and mother trying to fulfil her own passionate commitment to writing at a time when to be a woman writer was an extraordinary and costly anomalyCoinciding with the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein this is a major new work of biography by a prize winning writer and poetWritten by Fiona SampsonRead by Stella GonetAbridged by Polly ColesProduced by Clive BrillA Brill production for BBC Radio 4httpwwwbbccoukprogrammesb09ly0kReview at NYTimes

In Search of Mary Shelley The Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein
  • Hardcover
  • 320 pages
  • In Search of Mary Shelley The Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein
  • Fiona Sampson
  • English
  • 09 July 2014
  • 9781681777528