Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was born in England on August 30, 1797. Her parents were two celebrated liberal thinkers, William Godwin, a social philosopher, and Mary Wollstonecraft, a women's rights advocate. Eleven days after Mary's birth, her mother died of puerperal fever. Four motherless years later, Godwin married Mary Jane Clairmont, bringing her and her two children into the same household with Mary and her half-sister, Fanny. Mary's idolization of her father, his detached and rational treatment of their bond, and her step-mother's preference for her own children created a tense and awkward home. Mary's education and free-thinking were encouraged, so it should not surprise us today that at the age of sixteen she ran off with the brilliant, nineteen-year old and unhappily married Percy Bysshe Shelley. Shelley became her ideal, but their life together was a difficult one. Traumas plagued them: Shelley's wife and Mary's half-sister both committed suicide; Mary and Shelley wed shortly after he was widowed but social disapproval forced them from England; three of their children died in infancy or childhood; and while Shelley was an aristocrat and a genius, he was also moody and had little money. Mary conceived of her magnum opus, Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, when she was only nineteen when Lord Byron suggested they tell ghost stories at a house party. The resulting book took over two years to write and can be seen as the brilliant creation of a powerful but tormented mind. The story of Frankenstein has endured nearly two centuries and countless variations because of its timeless exploration of the tension between our quest for knowledge and our thirst for good. Shelley drowned when Mary was only 24, leaving her with an infant and debts. She died from a brain tumor on February 1, 1851 at the age of 54.
Complete with a Life & Times section for each author, which offers insights into their lives, works and the time of publication, and a handy glossary adapted from the Collins English Dictionary, this Collins Classics Collection will enhance your reading experience.
DRACULA: This dark, brooding and powerfully atmospheric novel is a classic of gothic literature, casting light on the darkness of the human psyche, and exploiting our deepest fears.
TALES OF MYSTERY AND IMAGINATION: Including Poe’s most terrifying, grotesque and haunting short stories, Tales of Mystery and Imagination is the ultimate collection of the infamous author’s macabre works.
THE STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE: Stevenson's quintessential novella of the Victorian era epitomizes the conflict between psychology, science and religious morality, but is fundamentally a triumphant study of the duality of human nature.
FRANKENSTEIN: In the most famous gothic horror story ever told, Shelley confronts the limitations of science, the nature of human cruelty and the pathway to forgiveness with rich language and evocative imagery.
Rejected by all humanity, the creature sets out to destroy Frankenstein and everyone he loves. And as the monster gets ever closer to his maker, hunter becomes prey in a lethal chase that carries them to the very end of the earth.
New to this edition is a discussion of Percy Shelley’s role in contributing to the first draft of the novel. Recent scholarship has provoked considerable interest in the degree to which Percy Shelley contributed to Mary Shelley’s original text, and this edition’s updated introduction discusses this scholarship. A new appendix also includes Lord Byron’s “A Fragment” and John William Polidori’s The Vampyre, works that are engaging in their own right and that also add further insights into the literary context of Frankenstein.