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Mary W. Shelley

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, considered the mother of science fiction, was a teenager when she wrote her gothic horror masterpiece  Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (1818).

The novel’s story of a young scientist obsessed with galvanizing dead matter with electricity is a warning of the evils of science, and may be the first significant rendering in literature of the relationship between humanity and science. Shelley was the daughter of English philosopher and novelist William Godwin (1756–1836) and the feminist and educator Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–1797). In 1816 she married the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, two years after they had eloped to the Continent following the suicide of his first wife.

During 1816, the Shelleys spent much time with Lord Byron, who with his physician John William Polidori, suggested they all try their hands at penning a ghost story. Neither Byron's nor Percy Shelley's ever came to light, but Dr. Polidori created The Vampyre (1819) and Mary Shelley wrote her masterpiece, which has since become an icon of fantastic literature and a major cultural influence for two centuries.

Induction Year: 2004

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Frankenstein (1818)
The Last Man (1826)

TV/FILM ADAPTATIONS

Frankenstein (1931)
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
Young Frankenstein (1974)

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