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The Rebellious Teenager Who Wrote Frankenstein
Children, Kids & Teens

The Rebellious Teenager Who Wrote Frankenstein

Summary

Mary had not one day of formal education, received no support or encouragement from her parents, lived at a time repressive to women and, yet, by age 18, she was able to complete a novel about what would become the best-known monster of all time.

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This is an inspirational story of a teenager who had not one day of formal education, received no support or encouragement from her parents, lived at a time repressive to women (even Jane Austen did not put her name on Pride and Prejudice in fear it would not get published). Nevertheless, by age fifteen Mary begins collecting ideas and keeping notes for her first novel. She is partly motivated to be a writer by the fact her mother wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (the first book on the liberation of women in the English language) and then, five years later, died giving birth to Mary—causing Mary to feel responsible for her mother’s death and to strive to give continuation to her mother’s life by becoming a writer and advocate for women’s rights.

Mary lives under the care of a controlling and oppressive stepmother, is never allowed to go to school but, instead, is forced to do housekeeping and take care of the family’s Children’s Bookshop. But Mary sneaks into her father’s study at night and does the best she can to educate herself. At age sixteen, two men propose marriage, but she declines. These experiences are a turning point in her young life. For the first time, Mary feels like a woman and has a sense of her power. She knows she is not fully mature, but also that she is no longer a child.

 The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley is attracted to the flirtatious sixteen-year-old and falls in love. She soon realizes that she is in love with him. Although married, he and Mary decide to run away to Switzerland. When the couple returns to England, Mary is barred from communicating with anyone in her family and is ostracized by polite society. Yet, now she is part of a group of poets, novelists, playwrights, and journalists.

 At age seventeen, Mary continues working on her novel, Frankenstein. She and Percy Shelley are forced to flee to Italy to avoid indictment for being radicals. She finishes Frankenstein (at age eighteen) and returns to England, using her popularity to lecture on women’s rights and the education of girls. Frankenstein becomes an international best-seller and is made into numerous stage productions in England and France during Mary’s lifetime.