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Tousy-Mousy

Anne Barton: Mary Shelley

8 February 2001
Mary​ Shelley 
by Miranda Seymour.
Murray, 665 pp., £25, October 2000, 0 7195 5711 9
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Mary Shelley​ in Her Times 
edited by Betty Bennett and Stuart Curran.
Johns Hopkins, 311 pp., £33, September 2000, 0 8018 6334 1
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Mary Shelley's Fictions 
edited by Michael Eberle-Sinatra.
Palgrave, 250 pp., £40, August 2000, 0 333 77106 0
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... Richard Holmes published Shelley: The Pursuit in 1974. More than a decade later, in Footsteps: Adventures of a Romantic Biographer (1985), he recalled how obsessive his engagement gradually became, not just with Shelley, but with ...

Menagerie of Live Authors

Francesca Wade: Marys Shelley​ and Wollstonecraft

7 October 2015
Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary​ Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley 
by Charlotte Gordon.
Hutchinson, 649 pp., £25, April 2015, 978 0 09 195894 7
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... There were​ high hopes for the son of Percy Bysshe and MaryShelley, the grandson of William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, but the boy told his mother that all he wanted was a quiet life and a sailing boat. She wasn’t wholly disappointed at his failure to distinguish himself. When it was suggested at ...

Satanic School

Rosemary​ Ashton

7 May 1987
Forbidden Partners: The Incest Taboo in Modern Culture 
by James Twitchell.
Columbia, 311 pp., £15.60, December 1986, 0 231 06412 8
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Shelley​ and his Circle 1773-1822: Vols VII and VIII 
edited by Donald Reiman and Doucet Devin Fischer.
Harvard, 1228 pp., £71.95, October 1986, 0 674 80613 1
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Shelley’s Venomed Melody 
by Nora Crook and Derek Guiton.
Cambridge, 273 pp., £25, August 1986, 0 521 32084 4
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The Journals of Mary Shelley​ 1814-1844 
edited by Paula Feldman and Diana Scott-Kilvert.
Oxford, 735 pp., £55, March 1987, 0 19 812571 2
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Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Selected Letters 
edited by H.J. Jackson.
Oxford, 306 pp., £19.50, April 1987, 0 19 818540 5
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... are divided of course between liking to feel the past strange and liking to feel it familiar.’ Thus Henry James in the Preface to The Aspern Papers, the germ of which was the story of an American Shelley-worshipper seeking out the eighty-year old Claire Clairmont to trick or wheedle her into handing over precious documents illuminating her youthful relations with Shelley and Byron. There has been a ...

Versatile Monster

Marilyn Butler

5 May 1988
In Frankenstein’s Shadow: Myth, Monstrosity and 19th-century Writing 
by Chris Baldick.
Oxford, 207 pp., £22.50, December 1987, 0 19 811726 4
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... why so many people know the plot of Frankenstein, and have known it, as this book ably demonstrates, since shortly after the work’s first appearance in 1818, without necessarily reading a line of MaryShelley’s prose. More than a century before it was filmed, it existed in two rival stage versions. Cartoonists drew it, writers and politicians alluded to it. The plot, rather like the monster, got ...

Ink Blots, Pin Holes

Caroline Gonda: ‘Frankenstein’

28 January 2010
The Original ‘Frankenstein’ 
by Mary Shelley, with Percy Shelley, edited by Charles Robinson.
Bodleian Library, 448 pp., £14.99, October 2009, 978 1 85124 396 9
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... no necessity to re-name Frankenstein Deceiver; I think his abilities are so bad that he never could possibly deceive any one.’ It’s not clear whether Mr Gully’s Frankenstein was called after MaryShelley’s novel, its over-reaching protagonist, or his monstrous creation. By the early 1830s, the tendency to confuse Frankenstein and his creature was already well established. Letters to the ...
19 February 1981
The Letters of Mary​ Wollstonecraft ShelleyVol. 1 
edited by Betty Bennett.
Johns Hopkins, 591 pp., £18, July 1980, 0 8018 2275 0
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... Madame – vous avez du caractère’, remarked a French gentleman travelling through Savoy in 1823 in the same carriage as MaryShelley and observing her as she checked her small son Percy’s self-willed behaviour. She was pleased enough to report the compliment to Leigh and Marianne Hunt in a letter; and if she seems a little arch ...
15 May 1980
‘A heart for every fate’: Byron’s Letters and Journals, Vol. 10, 1822-1823 
edited by Leslie Marchand.
Murray, 239 pp., £8.95, March 1980, 0 7195 3670 7
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... tracasserie, Began to treat him with some small agacerie. Genoa was the last of Byron’s many residences in Italy. He had left Pisa, where he had heard that his daughter Allegra had died, where Shelley had died, and where the English chaplain had ‘done him the honour’ of preaching against him. He set up house in the Casa Saluzzo ‘at Albaro on a hill overlooking Genoa, cold – frosty but airy ...
5 February 1987
Trillion Year Spree: The History of Science Fiction 
by Brian Aldiss and David Wingrove.
Gollancz, 511 pp., £15, October 1986, 0 575 03942 6
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Eon 
by Greg Bear.
Gollancz, 504 pp., £10.95, October 1986, 0 575 03861 6
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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Trilogy in Four Parts 
by Douglas Adams.
Heinemann, 590 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 434 00920 2
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Humpty Dumpty in Oakland 
by Philip K. Dick.
Gollancz, 199 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 575 03875 6
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The Watcher 
by Jane Palmer.
Women’s Press, 177 pp., £2.50, September 1986, 0 7043 4038 0
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I, Vampire 
by Jody Scott.
Women’s Press, 206 pp., £2.50, September 1986, 0 7043 4036 4
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... does that not look – remembering Star Wars and Mr Spock – by some way too ambitious? Is Aldiss not, as he was in this book’s 1973 precursor, Billion Year Spree, a trifle over-persuaded by MaryShelley? There is of course much to be said for seeing Frankenstein as simultaneously a Gothic novel and a work of Science Fiction, and Aldiss says it well. MaryShelley had the right scientific ...

Narcissus and Cain

David Bromwich

6 August 1992
Mary​ and Maria by Mary Wollstonecraft, Matilda by Mary Shelley 
edited by Janet Todd.
Pickering & Chatto, 217 pp., £24.95, January 1992, 1 85196 023 6
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Lady Sophia Sternheim 
by Sophie von La Roche, edited by James Lynn.
Pickering & Chatto, 216 pp., £24.95, January 1992, 9781851960217
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... to blame: he was lacking in courage at times and wanted credit for courage at all times. What is strange is to see the same double bind in force against a writer as indifferent to worldly prudence as Mary Wollstonecraft. Her vindications of the Rights of Men and the Rights of Woman, books of great originality and psychological acuteness, are as widely discussed as ever, and yet, to judge by the number ...
19 September 1985
Shelley’s Style 
by William Keach.
Methuen, 269 pp., £18, April 1985, 9780416303209
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Ariel: A Shelley​ Romance 
by André Maurois and Ella D’Arcy.
Penguin, 252 pp., £1.95, September 1985, 0 14 000001 1
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... His is a fine book, but I wish Mr Keach had supplied a more explicit context for it. Apart from saying that Shelley’s language hasn’t been adequately described, he relies on the reader to know how the critical debate stands. He assumes too much, so I’ll mention some of the matters he takes for granted. The ...
1 August 1985
Footsteps: Adventures of a Romantic Biographer 
by Richard Holmes.
Hodder, 288 pp., £12.95, July 1985, 0 340 28337 8
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... the present in the past, he begins by looking at the Revolution through the eyes of Wordsworth, but, needing the decisive experience of a first-hand witness, he soon becomes absorbed in the life of Mary Wollstonecraft. Once again he follows literally and imaginatively where the biographical materials lead, discovering ‘a wholly different world-view of what a revolution required of its participants ...

A Mile or Two outside Worthing

Richard Jenkyns: Edward Trelawny

26 November 1998
Lord Byron’s Jackal: A Life of Trelawny 
by David Crane.
HarperCollins, 398 pp., £19.99, July 1998, 0 00 255631 6
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... he was a legendary figure, farouche and craggy, a solitary survivor from an epoch which already seemed fabulously remote: here, living on deep into the later Victorian age was a man who had once seen Shelley plain, and Byron, too, and who had looked on both their corpses. But on Crane’s account, almost the whole of his long life was disappointing, and disappointed: its brilliant or crucial moments were ...

Proper Ghosts

Dinah Birch: ‘The Monk’

15 June 2016
The Monk 
by Matthew Lewis.
Oxford, 357 pp., £8.99, January 2016, 978 0 19 870445 4
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... something wilder and more disorderly becomes a seductive option for those who mistrust the establishment. Many early Gothic texts reflect this pattern. Some were written by spirited young women like MaryShelley, who was 18 when she started Frankenstein in 1816, or Ann Radcliffe, whose gripping Gothic novels, all resolutely supportive of the rights of women, appeared throughout the 1790s. William ...

Tantrums

C.K. Stead

22 February 1996
Letters of Claire Clairmont, Charles Clairmont and Fanny Imlay Godwin 
edited by Marion Kingston Stocking.
Johns Hopkins, 704 pp., £45, May 1995, 0 8018 4633 1
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... Claire Clairmont was, briefly, Byron’s mistress, and the mother of his child Allegra. But was she also Shelley’s lover? Did she become pregnant by him? Did she give birth to his child? From the journals, edited by Marion Kingston Stocking and published in 1986, it seems clear that she was in love with ...

The Professor

Marilyn Butler

3 April 1980
A Fantasy of Reason: The Life and Thought of William Godwin 
by Don Locke.
Routledge, 398 pp., £13.50, January 1980, 0 7100 0387 0
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... William Godwin is a man who cries out to be the subject of a life. He has everything: a repressed personality, ripe for psychoanalysis; a role in the high dramas of his wife Mary Wollstonecraft, his daughter Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, his son-in-law Shelley and the infant grandchildren; a circle of interesting friends, many of them articulate enough to leave written records ...

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