In 1814, Mary Shelley met Percy Bysshe Shelley, a famous English poet. At that time, P. Shelley was already married to Harriet Westbrook and the couple was waiting for their second child. However, Shelley was very unsatisfied with his marriage, which led him to abandon his wife. He and Mary ran away to Switzerland with Claire Clairmont, Mary’s stepsister. The three returned to England six weeks after, as they were feeling homesick and had no more money. Percy and Mary got married in 1816, after the suicide of Harriet.

Although Mary Shelley came up with the idea of Frankenstein, she did not write the whole novel without help. Specialists have found substantial evidence that proves her husband Percy took part in the writing. According to professor Charles E. Robinson from the Delaware University, Percy changed key descriptions and helped paint a more vivid picture of Victor Frankenstein’s monster. In other words, he helped tighten the plot and develop themes.

These discoveries and claims make perfect sense, as Mary Shelley was only 18 when she wrote her famous Frankenstein. Moreover, in the preface that she wrote for her non-anonymous edition, Mary Shelley states, “At first I thought but a few pages – of a short tale; but Shelley urged me to develop the idea at greater length.” A few lines later, Mary says that her husband has written the whole preface in the first edition of Frankenstein, the anonymous one. In a sense, it is implied that Percy B. Shelley helped her throughout the whole writing process, as he was himself an author.

Christophe Caron


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