The life of Frankenstein’s creator uncovered by leading Roehampton Professor

  • Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Professor Fiona Sampson's new book reveals discoveries that offer a richer understanding of the woman behind Frankenstein.

Image - The life of Frankenstein’s creator uncovered by leading Roehampton Professor

In celebration of the bicentenary of the publication of Frankenstein, Professor Fiona Sampson's new biography of Mary Shelley's life, In Search of Mary Shelley: the girl who wrote Frankenstein, is a new and up-close insight into the life of a writer who gave us one of fiction's most popular and enduring characters.

In the book, Professor Sampson reveals previously unknown details of Shelley's life, including more records of the child that was not Mary's, but who was registered to her and Percy Bysshe Shelley in Italy, and the newspaper account that describes, in graphic detail, the body of Shelley's sister as it was found after she committed suicide.

Professor Sampson uses diaries and letters written by Shelley, as well as newspaper articles and meteorological reports from the time to create an intimate narrative of the writer's life. By piecing together all the evidence available, Professor Sampson humanises her subject and reflects Shelley's own Romantic approach to writing.

Professor Sampson says ‘Mary Shelley's life story is important today as an early nineteenth century model of a woman writer's intellectual and professional life. But she also matters to us as the teenaged author of Frankenstein, a novel that comes to grips with the hopes and anxieties at the heart of modernity, and with the Romantic origins of contemporary ideas of self‘.

Professor Laura Peters, Head of the Department of English and Creative Writing says ‘Frankenstein is a cornerstone of English literature and the success of this new book reflects the quality of the work our academic staff produce at Roehampton’.

Professor Fiona Sampson MBE FRSL is a prize-winning poet and writer, and is Director of the Roehampton Poetry Centre. She previously prepared an edition of Percy Bysshe Shelley's poetry for Faber&Faber.

The book will be launched at 7pm on 18 January at the National Portrait Gallery with a public lecture, ‘Mary Shelley and the Romantic Self’. In Search of Mary Shelley has been named Book of the Week by both the Guardian and the Daily Mail, and has been pick of the year in the Financial Times, The Observer and Independent. It has also received critical acclaim in the Sunday Times, the Times, The Observer, the Telegraph and the Spectator. From 15-19 January it is serialised on BBC Radio 4 as Book of the Week.