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Episode 3

Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelley travel to Europe and strike up a bond with Lord Byron. In regular gatherings, they challenge each other to write ghost stories.

Mary Shelley was brought up by her father in a house filled with radical thinkers, poets, philosophers and writers of the day. Aged 16, she eloped with Percy Bysshe Shelley, embarking on a relationship that was lived on the move across Britain and Europe. She coped with debt, infidelity and the deaths of three children, before early widowhood changed her life forever. Most astonishingly, it was while still a teenager that she composed her novel Frankenstein, creating two of our most enduring archetypes today.

The life story is well-known. But who was the woman who lived it?

Mary Shelley left plenty of evidence and, in this fascinating dialogue with the past, Fiona Sampson sifts through letters, diaries and records to find the real woman behind the story. She uncovers a complex, generous character - friend, intellectual, lover and mother - trying to fulfil her own passionate commitment to writing at a time when to be a woman writer was an extraordinary and costly anomaly.

Coinciding with the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein, this is a major new work of biography by a prize-winning writer and poet.

Written by Fiona Sampson
Read by Stella Gonet
Abridged by Polly Coles
Produced by Clive Brill
A Brill production for BBC Radio 4.

15 minutes

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Role Contributor
Reader Stella Gonet
Author Fiona Sampson
Abridger Polly Coles
Producer Clive Brill

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