Mary Wollstonecraft

Mother of Mary Shelley. Political philosopher and novelist, author A Vindication of the Rights of Woman(1792), Wollstonecraft gave birth to an illegitimate daughter, Fanny, while living in France during the Revolution. Three years later, after being abandoned by her lover, she married the philosopher William Godwin while four months pregnant with her second child, Mary Godwin/Shelley. She died ten days after Mary was born.


Mary Godwin/Shelley

Daughter of William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. At age 16, Mary fell in love with the poet Percy Shelley and ran away with him to France, scandalizing London society. Mary bore two children out of wedlock, marrying Shelley after the death of his first wife in 1816. At age eighteen, she began writing Frankenstein (1818) and went on to write five more novels, two travel books, many short stories, literary reviews and biographical essays. After Percy's death, she was the principal editor of his work and devoted herself to establishing his reputation as one of the greatest poets of his generation.


William Godwin

Father of Mary Shelley, husband of Mary Wollstonecraft. A political philosopher, whose book, An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793), inspired the reform movement. Godwin was also a prolific novelist. His works include Caleb Williams (1794) and St. Leon. Four years after Wollstonecraft died, he married Mary Jane Clairmont.


Percy Shelley

Mary Shelley's lover/husband and poet. At age twenty-one, the already married Percy fell in love with the sixteen-year old Mary Godwin and fled with her to France, leaving behind his wife, Harriet Westbrook. Percy's most famous poems include "Ode to the West Wind," "To a Skylark" and "Ozymandias." He drowned off the coast of Italy a few weeks before his thirtieth birthday.

The Places


Mary Wollstonecraft's original gravestone, where her daughter learned to read.


Rome was one of Mary Shelley's favorite cities.


Beverly Minster. Mary Wollstonecraft spent her early teenage years in this Yorkshire town.


"The Storming of the Bastille" - Mary Wollstonecraft sailed to Paris to write about the Revolution. She arrived shortly before the execution of King Louis XVI and lived there through the Reign of Terror.