Death and the Maidens

“I arise from dreams of thee,

And a spirit in my feet

Has led me- who knows how?
To thy chamber-window, Sweet!”
― Percy Bysshe Shelley

On July 28, 1840, Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, 24, eloped to France with 17-year-old Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin regardless of the fact that he was already married. 

To be a fly on that wall… 

I feel as though I was a fly on that wall after reading Death and the Maidens– Fanny Wollstonecraft and the Shelley Circle” by Janet  Todd, The book tells the story of Fanny Imlay and  Mary Wollstonecraft Godwiin. Fanny was the illegitimate daughter of the first feminist, and philosopher, Mary Wollstonecraft, who married  political philosopher William Godwin. Their child together, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, later became Mary Shelley author of”Frankenstein“. Mary Willstonecraft died shortly after giving birth to Mary, Leaving Godwin to raise the two girls. He remarried Jane Clairmont who had two children, John and Claire, from a previous marriage.

The “Shelley Circle” includes John William Polidori and Lord Byron, who’s life is also chronicled in the book. Light is shed on the circumstances that lead to Mary Shelly’s penning of “Frankenstein” at the early age of 17. The lives, relationships and travels of all those mentioned above mentioned is fascinating.

This beautifully written book has it all: love, heartbreak, deception, scandal, love triangles, tortured poetic genius, and as the title implies- death.


The Daily Post, March 20, 2015, Daily Prompt: Fly On The Wall<a href=””>Fly on the Wall</a><a href=””>Fly on the Wall</a>”

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