The Costumer - December 2020

Artwork by Chad Schimke in homage to The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.

Saturday, June 1, 2019


MARY SHELLEY - Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin’s mother died only 11 days after her birth. In her later writing, death would become a pervasive fixture of Mary’s life. She was born to her father William Godwin, an anarchist and atheist, and her mother Mary Wollstonecraft, a radical feminist for the time. When her father remarried, she had a difficult relationship with her stepmother. Percy Bysshe Shelley, an influential Romantic poet, began a romance with Mary in 1814 while he was still married. When they returned to England from travels in France, she was pregnant with his child. After his wife’s suicide they married, and Mary also endured the death of their premature daughter. One historic day at the age of 18, Mary rented Swiss villa with her husband, joined by Lord Byron and his mistress/ Mary’s stepsister, Claire Clairmont. They were accompanied by John William Polidori, the creator of the vampire fiction, and author of The Vampyre. The group wrote, canoed on Lake Geneva, and talked late into the night. It rained incessantly, which forced them to remain indoors. So they gathered around the fireplace, telling tales of German ghost stories. Lord Byron, a well-known Romantic poet in his own right, urged everyone to write their own ghost story. Each morning, upon being asked what she came up with, Mary couldn’t articulate a new idea. But on one particular sleepless night, she was haunted by a waking dream, wherein she was paid a visit by a reanimated corpse. At first she thought it would be a short story, but her husband encouraged her to develop a novel. Frankenstein--or, The Modern Prometheus--was published in 1818. During their marriage she edited and promoted her husband’s writing. But after Percy drowned in a sailing accident, she devoted herself to a career as an author. She died at the age of 53, most likely from a brain tumor. 


  1. I liked reading some of her books when I was growing up. She was a stellar author

  2. I loved the book Frankenstein when I was a little girl. I don't exactly know what drew me to it, but I found it fascinating.

  3. I haven't read any of her books yet. It's quite interesting for me to know Frankenstein but I want to read more about it.

  4. One of the most influential writers in history. Little did she know that she would create one of the best known and spread stories across the world! This was fascinating - thank you!

  5. Wow....this is a new one for me. I haven't heard of it before.