Form and Content
In The Woman Who Created Frankenstein: A Portrait of Mary Shelley, Janet Harris focuses on the development of the myth of Frankenstein to emphasize the importance of Shelley’s accomplishment and to provide an intriguing introduction to this writer’s life. The biography opens with Mary Shelley’s account of the ghost story contest among Lord Byron, his physician John Polidori, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and herself that led to the composition of Frankenstein (1818). It ends with a chapter that discusses various literary and cinematic versions of Mary’s story and even provides a chronology of various film versions of the Frankenstein story from 1910 to 1974.
Although the composition and development of the Frankenstein myth may provide the reader with an initial point of interest, The Woman Who Created Frankenstein is for the most part a chronologically arranged narrative of Shelley’s life that relies for details both on her own journals, letters, and works of fiction and on the writings of those who knew her. Harris discusses in some detail the importance of Shelley’s parents in her development. Her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, was the author of A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792), which attempted to disseminate the revolutionary ideas of freedom and equal justice for women. Mary Shelley’s father, William Godwin, was an even more famous philosopher and social critic whose home was often a meeting place for...
(The entire section is 519 words.)