What is a literary classic and why are these classic works important to the world?
A literary classic is a work of the highest excellence that has something important to say about life and/or the human condition and says it with great artistry. A classic, through its enduring presence, has withstood the test of time and is not bound by time, place, or customs. It speaks to us today as forcefully as it spoke to people one hundred or more years ago, and as forcefully as it will speak to people of future generations. For this reason, a classic is said to have universality.
Mary Wollstonecraft was born on August 30, 1797, to philosopher and author William Godwin and feminist writer Mary Godwin in London, England. At 16, Mary met the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Though Shelley was already married, the two eloped in 1814. In 1816, they traveled to Geneva with Mary's step-sister, Claire. Once there, they became acquainted with the poet George Gordon, Lord Byron, who would remain a lifelong friend of the Shelleys. One evening, Byron suggested that they each write a ghost story; Mary's story eventually became Frankenstein and was published in 1818 when Mary was 21.
Percy and Mary married legally after Shelley's first wife committed suicide. The Shelleys then moved to Italy, where they resided until 1822. On July 8 of that year, Percy Shelley was killed in a boating accident. Mary returned to England after her husband's death.
Throughout the remainder of her life, Mary Shelley continued to write, producing works such as Mathilda (1819), Valperga (1823), The Last Man (1826), Lodore (1835), and Falkner (1837). She also wrote and published a commentary on Percy Shelley's poetic collection entitled Posthumous Poems of Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Mary Shelley died from a brain tumor on February 1, 1851.