Mary Shelley Timeline
How It All Went Down
Mary Shelley Born
Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin is born in London. She is the only child of feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and the political philosopher William Godwin.
Mary Wollstonecraft dies as a result of complications from childbirth.
William Godwin marries a widow named Mary Jane Clairmont, who moves in with her two children, Charles and Claire.
Baby Brother Born
William and Mary Jane Godwin give birth to their only child together, William Godwin, Jr.
First Poem Published
Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin's first poem, "Mounseer Nongtongpaw," is published by the press owned by her father and stepmother.
Moves to Scotland
To separate Mary from her stepmother, William Godwin sends his daughter to stay with the Baxter family in Dundee, Scotland. She stays there until November, becoming close friends with the Baxters' daughter Isabel.
Back to Scotland
Mary Godwin returns to the Baxters' home.
Meets Percy Shelley
Upon returning from Scotland, Mary Godwin meets Percy Bysshe Shelley, a young poet and an admirer of her father's who visits their home often. He also happens to be married to a woman named Harriet Westbrook, with whom he has one young daughter and another child on the way. Mary and Percy Shelley soon fall in love.
Elopes With Shelley
Sixteen-year-old Mary runs off with Percy Shelley to Europe. Her stepsister Claire Clairmont accompanies them. Mary Godwin becomes pregnant almost immediately. William Godwin is furious and refuses to see his daughter for the next two and a half years.
Returns to London
Mary Godwin, Claire Clairmont and Percy Shelley return to London. Mary is penniless, pregnant, and a social outcast due to her having run off with a married man. The couple is forced to live apart while Shelley goes into hiding to escape his creditors.
Gives Birth to Daughter
Mary Godwin gives birth to the couple's first child, a daughter named Clara. The baby is two months premature and dies only a few weeks after birth.
Gives Birth to Son
Mary Godwin gives birth to the couple's second child, William.
The Shelleys take a summer holiday in Switzerland with Lord Byron and his pregnant lover Claire Clairmont. While stuck in the house one rainy afternoon, Lord Byron suggests a contest to see who can write the best ghost story. Shelley sketches the tale that becomes Frankenstein.
Fanny Godwin Dies
Mary Godwin's older half-sister Fanny Imlay Godwin commits suicide with an overdose of laudanum.
Shelley's Wife Dies
Shelley's wife Harriet Westbrook commits suicide by throwing herself into London's Serpentine River. She was pregnant with the couple's third child.
A pregnant Mary Godwin marries Percy Bysshe Shelley at St. Mildred's Church in London. She reconciles with her father.
Gives Birth to Daughter
Mary Shelley gives birth to her third child, a daughter named Clara Everina. Shortly after the birth she publishes a book about her 1814 elopement with Shelley entitled History of a Six Weeks' Tour.
Frankenstein is published anonymously, to immediate and wild success.
Travels to Italy
The Shelleys travel to Italy in order to convince Lord Byron to give his estranged lover Claire Clairmont access their child. They remain in Italy for several years.
Clara Everina contracts dysentery and dies in Italy.
The Shelleys' three-year-old son William dies of malaria in Italy. The couple now has no living children, though Mary is pregnant with their fourth.
Gives Birth to Son
Mary Shelley gives birth to the couple's son Percy Florence, the only one of their children to outlive his parents.
Percy Bysshe Shelley Dies
Percy Shelley drowns in the Gulf of Spezia while sailing with a friend. A devastated Mary Shelley has his body cremated.
Shelley's novel Valperga is published.
Returns to England
Mary Shelley and her son Percy Florence arrive in Italy from England.
Lord Byron Dies
Lord Byron dies in Greece.
Shelley's Poems Halted
Mary Shelley begins editing a book of her late husband's poems for publication. She is forced to stop when her father-in-law threatens to cut off support to her and her son unless she pledges never to publish any of his son's works during his lifetime.
The Last Man Published
Shelley's novel The Last Man is published.
William Godwin, Jr., the son of Shelley's father and stepmother Mary Jane Clairmont, dies of cholera.
William Godwin dies in London.
Shelley's novel Falkner is published.
Shelley's Poems Published
Mary Shelley edits and publishes the collected poems of her late husband Percy Bysshe Shelley. Percy Shelley's father agreed to the publication, so long as it contained no memoirs of his son. The following month she publishes a collection of Shelley's essays and assorted writing.
A man claiming to be Lord Byron's son threatens to publish letters allegedly written by Mary and Percy Shelley unless Mary Shelley buys them from him. She wins a court injunction to prevent him from doing so.
Mary Shelley Dies
Mary Shelley dies at her London home after a long illness, possibly caused by a brain tumor.
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley is buried in the graveyard of St. Peter's church in Bournemouth. Her parents' remains are moved from St. Pancras and buried on either side of her.