The pain and loss that created Frankenstein
(Andersen Press)- hardback
‘Monsters’ are Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron. Claire (Jane) Clairmont wrote, ‘Under the influence of the doctrine and belief of free love, I saw the two first poets of England… become monsters.’
Claire was stepsister to Mary Godwin, writer of ‘Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus‘ and daughter of Mary Wollstonecroft . Unlike her older sister, Fanny, Mary demonstrated the wit and determination of their famous mother who died shortly after Mary’s birth. She enraptured ‘Bysshe’ from whom her father, philosopher William Godwin, sought financial support. Their mutual infatuation led to sixteen-year old Mary running away with Bysshe, and the poet leaving his wife, pregnant with their second child. However, there was more, for Mary’s stepsister, Claire, joined them.
What was the relationship? Stories abound that Claire bore Bysshe a child. Certainly the trio moved onto Italy at Byron’s invitation, after Claire had entranced the notorious poet with her ‘dark eyes’. However that relationship turned sour quickly. Furthermore the notion of ‘free love’ espoused by Percy Bysshe Shelley appeared to be understood differently by the poet, Mary Godwin and Claire Clairmont.
The weeks at Lake Geneva with Byron were laden with emotion and possibilities. ‘Monsters’ focuses upon Mary and Claire, victims of the egos and inclinations of two leading poets of the age. Linda Bailey’s Mary and Frankenstein recreates the emergence of Mary Shelley’s most famous book. However there is another story behind the writer, and her stepsister, told grippingly by Sharon Dogar in ‘Monsters’.
Recommended as suitable for older readers only.