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Frankenstein Research on Related People
William Godwin: In 1797 Godwin married Mary Wollstonecraft but she died soon after their daughter was born. The
following year he wrote Memoirs of the Author of a Vindication of the Rights of Women (1798). Godwin's political ideas
had a great influence on writers such as Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron. Godwin and Shelley became close
friends. However, their relationship was damaged when in 1814, Shelley fell in love and eloped with Mary, Godwin's
Mary Wollstonecraft: Wollstonecraft is best known for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), in which she
argues that women are not naturally inferior to men, but appear to be only because they lack education. She suggests
that both men and women should be treated as rational beings and imagines a social order founded on reason.
Until the late 20th century, Wollstonecraft's life, which encompassed several unconventional personal relationships,
received more attention than her writing. After two illfated affairs, with Henry Fuseli and Gilbert Imlay (by whom she had
a daughter, Fanny Imlay), Wollstonecraft married the philosopher William Godwin, one of the forefathers of the anarchist
movement. Wollstonecraft died at the age of thirtyeight, ten days after giving birth to her second daughter, leaving
behind several unfinished manuscripts. Her daughter Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, later Mary Shelley, the author of
Frankenstein, would become an accomplished writer herself.
After Wollstonecraft's death, her widower published a Memoir (1798) of her life, revealing her unorthodox lifestyle,
which inadvertently destroyed her reputation for almost a century.
Percy Bysshe Shelley: Shelley eloped to Scotland with Harriet Westbrook, a sixteen year old daughter of a coffeehouse
keeper. This created a terrible scandal and Shelley's father never forgave him for what he had done. Shelley moved to
Ireland where he made revolutionary speeches on religion and politics. He also wrote a political pamphlet A Declaration
of Rights, on the subject of the French Revolution, but it was considered to be too radical for distribution in Britain.
Percy Bysshe Shelley returned to England where he became involved in radical politics. He met William Godwin the
husband of Mary Wollstonecraft, the author of Vindication of the Rights of Women. Shelley also renewed his friendship
with Leigh Hunt, the young editor of The Examiner. Shelley helped to support Leigh Hunt financially when he was
imprisoned for an article he published on the Prince Regent.
In 1814 Shelley fell in love and eloped with Mary, the sixteenyearold daughter of William Godwin and Mary
Wollstonecraft. For the next few years the couple travelled in Europe. In 1822 Shelley, moved to Italy with Leigh Hunt
and Lord Byron where they published the journal The Liberal. Soon after its publication, Percy Bysshe Shelley was lost
at sea on 8th July, 1822 while sailing to meet Leigh Hunt.
Claire Clairmont: Stepdaughter of the philosopher Willam Godwin and therefore stepsister of Mary Godwin. After a
short romance with Lord Byron whom she saw first as early as 1812 she gave birth to his daughter Allegra after
travelling through Europe in 1816 with Mary and her husband to be Percy Bysshe Shelley. She was also present during
the night that Byron and Shelley told ghost stories, inspiring Mary Shelley to write her Frankenstein.
Claire agreed that Byron would take care of Allegra because her daughter would have better prospects that way and she
surrendered her to him reluctantly. Allegra died in a convent a few few years later and Claire would hate the poet all her
life, although many young children died in those years and it could hardly be called his fault.
Lord Byron: In the summer of 1816 he settled at the Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva, Switzerland, with his personal
physician, John William Polidori. There Byron befriended the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Shelley's future wife Mary
Godwin. He was also joined by Mary's stepsister, Claire Clairmont, with whom he had had an affair in London. Kept
indoors at the Villa Diodati by the "incessant rain" over three days in June, the five turned to reading fantastical stories,
including Fantasmagoriana, and then devising their own tales. Mary Shelley produced what would become Frankenstein,
or The Modern Prometheus. He also had an illegitimate child in 1817, Clara Allegra Byron, with Claire Clairmont,
stepsister of Mary Shelley and stepdaughter of Political Justice and Caleb Williams writer, William Godwin.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge: He was a friend of William Godwin (Mary's father) and was a visitor to the family household.
Coleridge recited the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, a poem that was to have a great influence on the young Mary
Godwin, and was to be a major influence in the writing of Frankenstein.
William Wordsworth: Mary Shelley was greatly influenced by Romantic poetry, most notably the poetry of William
Wordsworth, while writing Frankenstein. Shelley employs passages from Wordsworth's poems throughout her writings
and allows the adventures of Victor Frankenstein from youth to maturity to mirror the journey taken by Wordsworth's
speaker in the poem, "Tintern Abbey."
John Polidori: He was present at the Villa Diodati during the telling of the ghost stories. He went on to write The
Vampyre: A Tale (1819), a forerunner of Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897).