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Mary Shelley


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Twenty-five years ago, Seymour wrote a historical novel based on Lord Byron's life that reflected the prevailing view of Mary Shelley, the willful child-bride who, briefly touched by her husband's genius, produced one extraordinary work before sinking back into her native mediocrity and conventionality. Now, in this splendid biography, Seymour makes handsome amends. The Mary Shelley who emerges here is a remarkably mature and steady woman who suffered greatly, first from her erratic husband's self-absorption and then from losing three of her four children before she turned 25. Close to penniless after her husband's death by drowning, she successfully turned to hack work to support her son, her father and his second wife. In her vulnerable position as an unmarried woman making her own living, widely viewed as scandalous and immoral, she was frequently the target of slander. Throughout it all, she remained quick to speak out in defense of women like herself, who had struck out for personal freedom and been condemned for it. The tangle of irregular sexual connections, illegitimacy and adultery that characterized Shelley's circle of literary friends will surprise readers unfamiliar with early Victorian manners, as will the modern-sounding postmortem spin placed on Mary's and Percy's respective reputations. Nor is Frankenstein neglected, as Seymour convincingly argues for its roots in Mary's detestation of slavery and uncovers biographical sources for some of its scenes. Her primary concern, however, is the whole life of her subject, whom she admires deeply and whom she presents as flawed but heroic. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Novelist/biographer Seymour takes on Frankenstein's creator in a work already praised in the British press. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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