labingi: (ivan)
If any 19th-century woman can claim a place as quintessential geek girl, it is surely Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein. Not only is she the progenitor of one of the icons of geek culture and a founder of modern science fiction, she is also, I will argue, firmly situated in the grand tradition of women fan fiction writers. Born August 30, 1797, she would be 216 years old today.

Brief Biography
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley seemed marked for literary accomplishment. The daughter radical philosopher, William Godwin, and prototypic feminist and author of A Vindication of the Rights of Women, Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley was a natural heir to literary talent. Despite this advantage, however, her life was fraught with sorrows. Her mother having died in childbirth, she grew up close to her father. This relationship, however, was shattered when at sixteen she eloped with scandalous Romantic poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley (of the “Satanic School”).

Though the Shelleys loved each other and were surrounded by a stimulating social circle of Romantic intelligentsia, their lives were troubled, not least by the loss of several children: Percy Florence was the only child to survive his parents. After Shelley’s untimely death in a boating accident, Mary found herself a widow at twenty-four with a son to support. Though Shelley’s father was a baronet, his disapproval of his son’s elopement meant that he provided little financial support. She ended up significantly augmenting her income by writing and editing.

She was a prolific writer. In addition to Frankenstein and her futuristic science fiction novel, The Last Man, she wrote lesser-known novels, short stories, children’s stories, travel literature, and essays (and, of course, voluminous letters).

Today, aside from some slight attention to The Last Man and her novella, “Mathilda, ” about an incestuous father-daughter relationship, she is only remembered for Frankenstein. But, really, isn’t that enough?

Read the rest at The Geek Girl Project.
labingi: (Default)
Did you know that before E. M. Forster wrote Maurice, Mary Shelley wrote it? Not the same story, of course, but she did write a short story of the same name in 1820 as a gift for a friend’s daughter, Laurette.

The beginning of the story demands quoting, which I will do (with some ellipsis):

“One Sunday afternoon in the month of September, a traveller entered the town of Torquay.... The streets of the town were empty... so the traveller walked on through the meaner streets of the town... and then he paused at the door of a neat-looking inn....

“He entered the inn, and asking for dinner, unbuckled his wallet, and sat down to rest himself near the door.

“A tall man of glowering countenance approached and stood over him, addressing him in a surly manner: ‘Dinner? I’m sorry, did you say dinner?’

“ 'Yes,' replied the traveller, 'if you would be so good. I am weary from walking, and dinner just now would suit me admirably.'

"The innkeeper’s visage grew red with ire. 'It’s barely eleven o’clock!' cried he. 'Does that sound like dinner time to you? This is a hotel, not a full-service restaurant. I mean, do you have any idea how much work there is to do?' " (75-76).

Sorry, as a Fawlty Towers fan, I couldn’t resist.

Now, back to the story (spoilers follow):Read more... )

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