Everyone knows that Mary Shelley is the author of Frankenstein aka The Modern Prometheus, first published in 1818, but that’s pretty much all they know. If you studied the author in high school or even college, you no doubt learned the basics: She wrote Frankenstein when she was only 19 while waiting out a storm in a castle with her husband Percy Shelley and their friend Lord Byron. But there are plenty of things about Shelley the definitely didn’t teach you in Lit 101.
For example: Shelley once officiated over a lesbian wedding, she experimented with drugs, and wrote 5 books in addition to Frankenstein before she passed away in 1851. But one of the most titillating, and somewhat salacious details of her coming of age proves why she’s an idol to millions of Goths!
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Shelley’s mother, pioneering feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, died 10 days after giving birth. Still, the author felt an intense spiritual connection to her and spent many hours visiting her grave. It was there she met her future husband, and it was there that they first gave in to their amorous desires. What I’m trying to say politely is that Shelley lost her virginity in a cemetery—on her mother’s grave! It was an event the then-17 year old described as “sublime and rapturous moment”.
Oh yeah, and Percy (age 22 at the time) was already married to another woman. Scandalous!
Yeah, that’s Goth as fuck!
You can learn some more fascinating facts about Mary Shelley in the video below from author Mackenzi Lee; she packs a ton of information into 4 short minutes. Enjoy!
About Mackenzi Lee: Mackenzi Lee holds a BA in history and an MFA from Simmons College in writing for children and young adults, and her short fiction and nonfiction has appeared in Atlas Obscura, Crixeo, The Friend, and The Newport Review, among others. Her debut novel, This Monstrous Thing, won the PEN-New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award. Her second book, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, a queer spin on the classic adventure novel, was a New York Times bestseller (what is life?), and ABA bestseller, earned five starred reviews, a #1 Indie Next Pick, and was shortlisted for the New England Book Award.
She loves Diet Coke, sweater weather, and Star Wars. On a perfect day, she can be found enjoying all three. She currently calls Boston home, where she works as an independent bookstore manager.
Feature Image Artist: Raymond Jackson