Mary's Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein

by Lita Judge

“She conceived me. / I took shape like an infant, / not in her body, but in... read more

“She conceived me. / I took shape like an infant, / not in her body, but in her heart, growing from her imagination / till I was bold enough to climb out of the page / and into your mind.” Frankenstein’s monster speaks the Prologue, but it’s Mary Shelley’s voice that cries out across fictionalized, first-person poems recounting her life from childhood through shortly after writing Frankenstein when she was barely more than 20. Raised with her father and late mother’s feminist ideals but abused by her controlling stepmother, Mary left home as a teen to live with Percy Bysshe Shelley, a passionate (married) writer who struggled with severe mental illness. She was deeply in love, and soon pregnant. The years that followed were marked by turmoil, betrayal, and loss, all of which contributed to the conception of her literary masterpiece, which was crafted over a period of nine months. Full-page grayscale ink wash illustrations throughout set the perfect mood, while notes and documentation at volume’s end provide additional information, as well as commentary on how Judge, who drew on Mary’s letters and diaries as well as other sources in her research, navigated the space between fact and fiction. (Age 13 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2019

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