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Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and Claire Clairmont

Updated: Jul 2, 2020

This week, we talked about the Romantic lives of Mary Shelley and Claire Clairmont. And by Romantic we mean early 19th century Romantic, complete with lots of tragic deaths and love affairs. These sisters lived together throughout the first two decades of the 19th century and were extremely close companions. Both women were writers, but, while you'll find Mary's book in any local library or bookstore, most of Claire's writing has been lost or only recently re-discovered. If you are interested in learning more about either or both of these women, check out the sources below! There are also photos to help add context to their lives and the stories we told about them.

Top left: Claire Clairmont (1819 portrait); Top middle: Mary Wollstonecraft (proto feminist and mother of Fanny and Mary, painted ca. 1797); Top right: Mary Shelley née Wollstonecraft Godwin (1831 portrait), Center left: Lord Byron (1813 portrait) Center middle: A map of Percy, Mary, and Claire's six week tour of Europe in 1814 (dotted line) and 1816 (solid line); Center right: Percy Shelley (1819 portrait) Bottom left: A family tree based on Mary Shelley's family (note that two daughters are named Clara and there is no mention of Elena); Bottom middle: 1804 depiction of Giovanni Aldini's galvanism experiments from Essai theoretique experimental sur le Galvanisme Giovanni Aldini Bottom left: A family tree based on Claire's family (Elena is inclused as Mary's daughter)

Mary Shelley is considered the first science fiction novelist, but there is another "science fiction" writer who predates her by 17 centuries! Here is a very brief history of science fiction:


Even though she wasn’t a sister, the life of Mary Jane Clairmont/Vial/Deuvaraux/Godwin is too fascinating and scandalous to ignore!




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