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23.07.2018

Film reviews: Mary Shelley, directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour

by Michael Johnstone   A chief aim of Haifaa Al-Mansour’s Mary Shelley is established in the film’s opening shot: a young Mary Godwin sits on the ground against the gravestone of her mother Mary Wollstonecraft, reading a Gothic novel. From there, we will learn that Mary looks like her mother, that William Godwin taught his […]

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09.11.2016

Fictionalising 1816: The death of Harriet Shelley

by Lynn Shepherd The Shelleys and their circle have inspired hundreds of books, plays and films over the last two centuries, and there have been many accounts of that famous summer they spent together in 1816, when Frankenstein was conceived. But all the same there remain many inexplicable gaps and strange silences, where the biographers […]

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09.10.2016

Fictionalising 1816: The suicide of Fanny Imlay

by Lynn Shepherd I write literary mysteries. Taking the classic literature of the 19th century as the inspiration for new stories that inhabit the same world. I’ve worked with novels like Mansfield Park, Bleak House, and Dracula, and in my third book, I did the same with two of the century’s most remarkable literary figures: […]

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08.09.2016

Byron and his women: Mad, bad and very dangerous to know

by Alexander Larman In the (mercifully) final season of Downton Abbey, the Earl of Grantham, played with wooden heartiness by Hugh Bonneville, is convalescing after a spectacular moment of bloody vomiting. To aid him in his recuperation, he is shown leafing through a volume of Byron’s poetry. There is a jocular exchange in which Byron […]

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25.07.2016

Percy Bysshe Shelley: ‘Atheist. Lover of Humanity. Democrat’

by Graham Henderson This is how how Shelley described himself, during a visit to Chamonix and Mont Blanc in mid July 1816, in the company of Mary Godwin (later his wife), and her stepsister Claire Clairmont. According to his biographer, James Bieri, he “made at least four such registry inscriptions, including two hotels in Chamonix, […]

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27.05.2016

In the footsteps of the Shelleys: Italy

by Anna Mercer In September 2015 I spent four nights in the bay of Lerici. This visit was my first experience in this part of Italy: the region of Tuscany, an astoundingly beautiful landscape of beaches, mountains and distinctive Italian architecture. I have already been able to spend time in Rome and Venice as a […]

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28.03.2014

Claire Clairmont: On her letters and journals

By Lesley McDowell “I have just got your amusing letter (no one writes such good letters as you do)…I have not the art of letter writing – You have it to an eminent degree.” Mary Shelley was not attempting to ingratiate herself with her step-sister, Claire Clairmont, when she wrote these words to her towards […]

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