Mary Shelley the author of Frankenstein; her own and the novel’s connection with the City of Bath

Mary Shelley

This information surprised me, it is something I was unaware of, despite studying Percy’s and Mary’s life and drawing out many inspirations from their experiences for my Wickedly Romantic Poets novels. So I thought I would share it with you in case you are surprised and interested too.

Mary and the poet percy Bysshe Shelley, who she married in 1816 after a long affair, lived in Bath between 1816 and 1817 (I do know this was because Percy was hiding from people he owed debts to in London, and Mary’s family had disowned her prior to thier marriage so her father and step-mother would not offer her protection). The information below, that is on display in The Pump Room in the City of Bath, explains how scientific lectures that she attended in Bath influenced the novel that she completed during the time she lived in the city. It was quite a strange time for the couple, because Percy’s wife was found drowned in the river Thames, pregnant by another man. It appeared to be suicide. It left him fighting a legal battle to be able to see his children too, which is potentially one of the reasons he hastily married Mary. He was not a monogomous man in any context, and was potentially having an affair at the time, but living in sin was turning the odds against him and making the chances of him winning the custody of his children unlikely.

The initial inspirations for the creation of Mary’s monster are known to be linked to her father’s creation of a sinful woman, through his strong political views about the rights of women, who he then disowned. Although she was welcomed back like the prodigal son after she married Shelley (I wonder which of my books that might connect inspirations too, can you spot a similarity in the Lure of a Poet perhaps … ūüėČ only my poet is definitely nicer).

It does make you wonder about all these influences in Mary’s life, though, and imagine how they played out in what is a very dark story.

 

 

 

Let’s talk about the macabre: was Byron truly so original

Dressing up in macabre costumes and seeking to frighten others for pleasure has been

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Lord Byron

considered as entertainment for centuries. The Victorians loved their gothic reconstructions and the Tudors loved the intrigue of hiding behind masks and dressing up so they could pretend to be someone else. Then the infamous Lord Byron set up his group of wild friends at his ancient, mostly fallen down, Newstead Abbey. There they drank their toasts from the crown of a monk’s skull while playing blind man’s buff with his pet bear. Byron also loved to dress in false monks’ robes and to lead his friends in ceremonies. There is also the¬†picture of him in his Turkish¬†costume which again professes how much he liked to lead fashion and act a part.

Byron liked to be one of the ringleaders in shocking others with his macabre behaviour. For instance setting Shelley, his young mistress and her sister to writing ghost stories on a dark stormy night¬†abroad;¬† the¬†tale that became Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. But was Byron really as original as he would have had his friends think? Or was he flattering another man, a man, by his actions, I would guess he revered for achieving shocking acclaim years before Byron.

IMG_1004You may have heard of the Hellfire Club, set up by Sir Francis Dashwood, Lord le¬†Despencer. The Hellfire Club was¬†established long before Byron’s birth. To the left is Dashwood, dressed as both a monk and in eastern attire.

 

But the similarity in Byron’s behaviour extends not only to his choice of costumes¬†but also his choice of macabre games and there setting.

Sir Francis also loved a mock ceremony and while Byron had inherited his abbey, Sir Francis had rented one solely to host his ceremonies. You can read more about Medmenham Abbey on the board in the picture below.

When the Hellfire Club met the men wore their monks’ robes the women wore masks to cover their identity and they went by pseudonyms.

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Byron’s last supper in England, that he ate in the company his closest friends (those who knew his most shocking secrets and overlooked them), is often spoken of. Yet Sir Francis took his ceremonies much further¬†towards the shocking by naming his clubs superiors as twelve men, the apostles. These twelve men wore different¬†robes to those who were deemed inferior. Sir Francis saw himself as the group’s antichrist and toasted the devil.

Sir Francis began clearing out the tunnels of the former mine in 1748 to create his network of caves. He dug down into a hill beneath his family church and set up his inner temple, where only his apostles might go, 100 meters, exactly beneath, the church. He rented Medmenham Abbey in 1750 probably about the time the caves were also finished and the clubs pattern of macabre ceremonies began.

The Hellfire Club’s gatherings in the caves¬†began in the banqueting hall, where after a dinner, served by Dashwood’s servants, they entertained themselves in the niches about the room. Then the twelve superiors separated themselves from the crowd and walked on through more symbolic tunnels, over an underground stream (the river Styx) to the inner temple where no one knows what they got up to because none of them told the tale.

 

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The Marlow Intrigues: Perfect for lovers of period drama

The Tainted Love of a Captain¬†#8 ‚Äď The last episode¬†in the Marlow Intrigues series

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The Lost Love of Soldier ~ The Prequel #1 ~ A Christmas Elopement began it all 

The Illicit Love of a Courtesan #2 

The Passionate Love of a Rake #3

The Scandalous Love of a Duke #4

The Dangerous Love of a Rogue #5

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Jane¬†Lark¬†is a writer of authentic, passionate and emotional historical and contemporary stories, and the author of a No.1 bestselling Historical Romance novel in America, ‚ÄėThe Illicit Love of a Courtesan‚Äô.Click¬†here¬†to find out more about Jane‚Äôs books, and see Jane‚Äôs website¬†www.janelark.co.uk¬†to¬†learn more about Jane. Or click ¬†‚Äėlike‚Äô on Jane‚Äôs¬†Facebook¬† page. You can also follow Jane on twitter at¬†@janelark