Happy Birthday, Mary Shelley!
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley wrote widely—everything from plays to essays to travel writing was in her wheelhouse. However, she will always be most known for Frankenstein, often hailed as the birth of both science fiction and horror. Both her life and work still hold lessons for us today; so join us in celebrating her on what would have been her 321st birthday, August 30th.
- Go for what you want.
Maybe don’t go to the extreme of dating a married man until his wife commits suicide then marrying him almost immediately—like Shelley did. But still. She knew what she wanted, and she made it clear. The obstacles in her way didn’t shake her, and they shouldn’t shake you either.
- Give yourself the opportunity to start anew.
One of Mary Shelley’s most famous quotes is “The beginning is always today.” Whatever is past is past, and doesn’t have to limit you going forward. On that same token, there is no time like the present to get started working towards your goals. So get started!
- Inspiration is all around you, and within you.
Sometimes, we feel blocked, like we have nothing to say. That’s how Mary Shelley felt when Lord Bryon suggested that each of them, on their trip to Geneva, should write a ghost story. Ghost stories were not her type of writing, and days went by without inspiration. That is, until a discussion turned to the nature of the principle of life. Mary suggested that perhaps a corpse could be reanimated using electricity—and thus the idea was born. You, too, can find inspiration in something as simple as a conversation or a theory.
- Take credit for your work.
Mary Shelley originally published Frankensteinanonymously—but because her husband, Percy, wrote the preface and the book was dedicates to William Godwin (Mary’s father and Percy’s political hero), people assumed that Percy Shelley was the author. Even after it was republished under Mary’s name, the question of authorship remained alive. Some thought that Percy must have co-written it, when in all likelihood, he functioned more as an editor. Do not make the same mistake. Take credit for your work.
- Power can come from you.
Some see power as something relative—a position like CEO, or based on their ability to control others, like a mean girl in high school. In Frankenstein, the monster proclaims differently when he said “Beware, for I am fearless and therefore powerful.” You too have your own intrinsic power—so don’t give it up out of fear. Stand your ground.
- It’s okay to hold onto memories of the past, as long as it doesn’t hold you back.
Percy Shelley died when Mary was only 24—a mere six years after they wed. He had a calcified heart, which didn’t burn during cremation, so Mary wrapped it up in some of Percy’s poetry and kept it with her. This is, of course, an extremely dark example, but even literally carrying around her dead husband’s heart, she never let her grief get the better of her, turning her life towards the care of their son and to her writing.
Did you learn anything else from the life and work of Mary Shelley? Share it below!