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Who was Mary Shelley?

This is a blog about sci-fi, so we should take a look at how the genre first came about, and it can be easily pinpointed to one novel and author.

The first ever book to be published which is considered to be a Sci-fi title is Frankenstein by Mary Shelley in 1818 which is now over 200 years old!

I’ve done some research on her life and how the book came about. And how he defined a genre for many years to come.

Mary Shelley The Editor

Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley was born in London on August 30th 1797 and was the sole child of her parents. When she was around 18 years old she eloped with her future husband, Percy Shelley who was a French poet.

Unfortunately her husband died in 1822 after 6 years of marriage. She returned to England and began publishing her late husband’s work

Mary Shelley and Sci-fi

Before her husband passed away, Shelley wrote and published Frankenstein in 1818. A book about what happens when humans try to play God. It has been viewed as the first ever novel about Sci-Fi. Not only that but it is still very popular. It has been involved in many different media, including TV and movies.

The story came from a nightmare that Mary suffered during the summer-less year of 1816 on holiday in Switzerland. She was staying with her soon to be husband. Lord Byron, a romantic poet and a leading figure of the romantic movement, proposed a competition. One in which the participants would write a ghost story.

There were other influences as well. Mary’s mother died 15 days after childbirth. This would have fuelled her dread of childbirth and motherhood. Which would give her the idea of playing god by creating a being without a normal birth. Which Victor Frankenstein tries to do using old human parts and the power of electricity.

On top of knowing that Mary’s mother suffered through childbirth, Mary unfortunately also suffered with the loss of a premature baby only a few years before the book was released. An event that surely solidified her feelings towards childbirth and parenting.

Other Work

What you may not know is that Mary also authored a number of books, and Frankenstein isn’t even considered her best work. She has published around 7 books in all.

The Last Man

The Last Man is a dystopian novel set after a pandemic has ravaged the human population. It is also one of the first dystopian novels ever to have been written. Mary was really creating new genres throughout her short authoring life. 

At the time it was published it wasn’t particularly reviewed well. But after 1960 the public viewpoint on the book changed and was well received with an average score of 3.5 on Goodreads.

It focuses on a boy called Lionel who grows up with no parental guidance and therefore becomes uncivilised. The book explores friendship as well as what it means to be a civilised person.

Mathilda

So I won’t go into too much detail with regards to Mathilda, as the subject matter is problematic at best. It was also released after Mary’s death so she may not have wanted this book to see the light of day.

The Mortal Immortal

The Mortal Immortal explores what it would be like to be immortal while your family, friends and colleagues are dying around you. And how it may be appealing at first, but after some time it can be one of your worst fears.

Unlike many forms of media that explore this curse, in Mary’s short story, the main character looks young. But internally he still feels the aches and pains of turning old. The elixir he drank only prevents dying. 

Final Thoughts

This is a brief history of Mary Shelley. The creator of Sci-Fi and many other genres. I hope that she knows that she has left a lasting impression on the world in many ways.

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