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On this day in 1851, esteemed Frankenstein writer, Mary Shelley died of brain cancer. She was 53 years old.
Who would have guessed that Frankenstein, published anonymously in 1818 to unfavorable critical reception, would become a classic of literature, that is recognized the world over!?! For no one can doubt the significance that this novel has had on our popular culture, art and human psyche.
Shelley was, of course, the wife of the famous Romantic writer Percy Bysshe Shelley and so, was in common friendship with fellow writers John Keats and Lord Byron.
To say that her life was tragic, would certainly be something of an understatement. Only one of her three children survived childhood, her sister was known to be her husband’s mistress and even became pregnant by him. Not to mention, she survived her husband, who drowned at the age of 29! She herself, was plagued with ill health until she finally succumbed to what is thought to be a brain tumor at the relatively young age of 53.
It is unfortunate that more people are not aware of Shelley’s other writings, as they are quite good and certainly worth a read if you are a fan of her rich, gothic style. in fact, one of our favorite works by Shelley, apart from her masterpiece, is her science fiction novel, Last Man, published in 1826. If you’ve not read this apocalyptic treasure, we’ll not spoil it here… suffice it to say, that the characters are almost certainly semi-biographical and based off of people that were in Shelley’s social circle. She also wrote a large amount of historical novels, short stories and poetry.
Today… think about Frankenstein’s monster…a creature who was created to be both, a warning about the fearsome power of modern science and a nod to the responsibility of a creator to his creations. If you were to rewrite this classic tale… given the times we are living in, what would your monster be comprised of? And how would your monster fare when flung into this world without guidance?
And of course, do not forget to pay your respects to the wonderfully talented, though too often overlooked, Mary Shelley.
Write on in peace, Mrs. Shelley!
On this day in 1822, English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley died just one month prior to his 30th birthday when he drowned during a storm. Some called his death an accident. Others have suggested suicide as Shelley was rather depressed in those days. And still others believe he was mistaken by pirates for Lord Byron and attacked as a result. What’s your theory?
Percy Bysshe Shelley was not only a prolific but also a versatile poet. The sheer volume of his work is quite impressive for a poet of only 29 years old. Some of our favorite works include Hymn to Intellectual Beauty,The Cenci, Prometheus Unbound, Epipysychidion, Peter Bell the Third and The Witch of Atlas. In addition, we feel his essay A Defence of Poetry is highly valued as a statement on the moral importance of poetry and of poets, whom he calls “the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” While Shelley’s significance to English literature is today widely acknowledged, he was one of the most controversial literary figures of the early nineteenth century.
Percy, who was the husband of Frankenstein’s Mary Shelley, was also a very close friend of Lord Byron and John Keats. It cannot be denied that his work greatly influenced the writings of Robert Browning, Tennyson and even Yeats.
We greatly encourage Shelley enthusiasts to seek out The Complete Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe, published in 1824, which includes notes and introduction by Mary Shelley. It is simply beautiful to read her perspective on her husband’s work and the respect she felt for his poetry is abundantly evident. However, if you are strapped for cash, as so many writers are these days, you may want to check out this link which we have found very useful in the past.
Today, we hope our readers will take a moment to pause and reflect on all the beauty that is around us everyday. Try to see the world as Shelley did- look for the philosophical significance in the mundane. Be brilliant!
Writ eon in peace, Mr. Shelley!
Everyone’s favorite melancholic poet, George Gordon Byron, or Lord Byron as he is commonly known, died on this day in 1824. It is believed he died of sepsis, which he may have contracted as a result of unsanitary instruments being used during a good old fashioned bleeding… to treat a common cold. He was only 36 years old.
Byron, who was a highly prolific poet, is commonly remembered for his most famous works, including the narrative poems “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage” and “Don Juan” and even his shorter poems “She Walks in Beauty” and “So, We’ll Go No More A Roving” have become staples of poetic history. During his time period, Romantic poetry was all the rage - though Byron’s work is often studied now independently of other Romantics.
But Byron was much more than a poet- he was a personality in his time. In many literary circles today, you may hear people throw around the term “byronic hero“…ring any bells? By most definitions, this term applies to a character who is “idealized but flawed” and someone who has a lack of “respect” for social hierarchy. For example, many would say that Shakespeare’s Hamlet fits the mold of the “byronic hero”. Lord Byron himself was the epitome of the “Byronic Hero”. He was usually involved in romantic scandals and sea bound adventures ( he once swam from Europe to Asia!) , but was often depressed and suffered extreme mood swings. He was reckless in love and impulsive. Essentially, Lord Byron was… a rockstar.
He is also remembered as a different sort of hero in Greece, where he joined the leaders of the Revolution there in 1823. Byron gave the army money to replenish their supplies and was instrumental in the plan to attack the fortress of Lepanto, which had been taken over by the Turkish! This would have been the last adventure for Lord Byron, had he not fallen ill… and well… you know the story from there out.
Today, in honor of Lord Byron’s deathday, we encourage our readers to love recklessly but passionately, be spontaneous but not stupid and above all else- write about the things in your life you find beauty in.
Write on in peace, Lord Byron!