What shaped Mary Shelley, as a writer and a woman, and led her to create her masterpiece, Frankenstein?
Fact and fiction meet feminism and creation in this speculative exploration of the life and the psyche of Mary Shelley, who, by the age of twenty, had given birth and written the classic novel Frankenstein. Anne Eekhout investigates the power of creativity and the monsters within our minds.
Mary focuses on two important periods of this unconventional author and feminist’s life: 1816, the famous ‘Year without a Summer’, when Mary famously spent the summer by Lake Geneva with her lover Percy Shelley, Lord Byron and others, and her stay in Dundee, Scotland, four years previously, where she developed a close relationship with Isabella Baxter, the daughter of the family she was living with. Eekhout depicts the intensity of this connection and the girls’ bond of attraction and repulsion with an older man, David Booth. The myths and legends of Dundee and the surrounding area suffuse the story, as does the region’s tradition of storytelling. Eekhout skilfully incorporates local tales and atmosphere, weaving in an encounter that leads Mary, four years later, to give birth to her story about the monster.
Eekhout’s Mary is a psychologically believable character with forceful emotions and a strong awareness of her role as a woman – and a mother – in a world of powerful men.
This book combines fantasy and reality with a focus on sexuality, creation and the origin of story. In her imaginative exploration of the inspiration for Mary Shelley’s monster, the author considers Mary Shelley as a creator of literature and life, while also showing how fragments and threads of myth and legend are woven into our imaginations, our urges and our art.
Mary is a universally valid account of a fascinating woman and an intriguing period of history, a time when legends about witches and magical creatures merged with scientific discovery.