Saturday, January 19, 2019

Episode 6 Mary Shelley and Frankenstein

Book stack for the LOHF Podcast announcement

Join Toni as she talks about Mary Shelley’s life and the many themes of Frankenstein. The latest in LOHF news and Horror Community News.

Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley was born Mary W. Godwin in Somers Town, London on August 30th 1797. She was born to philosopher, novelist and journalist William Godwin and feminist philosopher, educator and writer Mary Wollstonecraft. Unfortunately, she lost her mother to childbed fever 10 days after she was born.

Mary spent the first four years of her life with her father and nurse Louisa Jones. In 1891 Mary’s father married Mary Jane Clairmont, a local widow, who had two children of her own. Mary Godwin had a tumultuous relationship with her stepmother who seemed to favor her own children over Mary and her sister.

Mary didn’t have a formal education; William ensured that she and her sister had the best tutors, access to his extensive library and the intellectuals that visited him. She only attended a proper school when she was sent to boarding school for six months.

In 1812 Mary was not in good health, she was having nerve issues in one of her arms. Her father believed that she needed clean country air instead of the dirty air of London.  William Godwin sent Mary to Dundee Scotland to stay with a family friend, William Thomas Baxter. Baxter was a political radical and had supported the French Revolution. Mary went back to London five months later.

When Mary returned to London her father threw her a welcome home party, where she met the married poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley. Shelley was a friend of her father. Godwin was having money issues at the time. Shelley gave Godwin 1500 pounds but asked Godwin that if he would be able to runway with Mary. Godwin was empathic that Percy stay away from Mary.

Mary was sent back to the Baxter Family in Dundee in 1813. When Mary returned to London she and Percy began to meet at her mother’s gravesite. On June 26th Mary and Percy declared their love for one another to her father. Needless to say Mary’s father wasn’t pleased with the pronouncement and against his wishes Mary and Percy left for France on July 28th 1814 with Mary’s step-sister Clair Clairmont, leaving Shelley’s pregnant wife behind in London.

Mary’s step-mother pursed the pair finally catching up to them in Calais in France. The couple convinced her step-mother they were in love and didn’t want to return to England. She returned to England and left them to travel through the war-ravaged landscape of France on their way to Switzerland. The trio traveled companionably through France with Percy and Shelly becoming more entwined intimately; sharing a travel journal and writing and reading with each other every day. However, by the time the trio reached Lucerene Switzerland they had ran out of money. When Percy left his pregnant wife in London his family had pretty much cut him out.

When the trio returned to England, they didn’t receive a warm welcome. First, during the whirlwind trip through France Mary became pregnant and second the couple was broke. Because of Percy’s marriage and the scandal that accompanied the couples return to England Mary’s father refused to have anything to do with the couple. They were forced to rent a small home to share with Mary’s step-sister.

Mary’s pregnancy was fraught with sickness and she was confined to the small home that she shared with Shelley and her step- sister. During Mary’s confinement Percy and Claire would leave Mary to her own devices while they attended social gatherings. It was during this time that rumors of their affair would sweep through London. To add insult to injury during Mary’s confinement Shelly’s wife gave birth to the healthy baby boy. Unfortunately, Mary wouldn’t be so lucky. On February 22nd 1815, she gave birth to a she and Shelley’s daughter 2 month premature. Unfortunately, the baby didn’t survive.

There isn’t much known about this time in Mary Godwin’s life as her journals are missing from that time. What we do know is that the Mary became severely depressed after the loss of she and Shelley’s child. However, she shortly conceived again. She gave birth on January 24th 1816 to a healthy baby boy the couple named William after her father.

This leads us to that faithful vacation where Frankenstein was written. In May 1816 Godwin, Shelley and Clairmont traveled to Geneva to spend the summer with Lord Byron, who is said to be having an affair with Clairmont. 1816 is often referred to as the year without a summer. The weather in Switzerland was wet and cold. The members of the party spent their time in Byron’s villa telling German ghost stories. It was during one of these chilly summer nights that the idea for a ghost story competition was floated.

One by one the members of the party presented their ghost stories. But when asked Mary was unable to provide a story. That is until a faithful night in mid-June. The company was discussing the Galvanism and the principals of life. Mary had what she referred as a waking dream. Her waking dream was the beginning of Frankenstein. She started writing what she thought was going to be a short story but collaborated with Shelley to write the full novel. Although the original manuscript has been found no one is actually sure of how much involvement Shelley actually had in the full writing of Frankenstein.

I would like to say that Mary had a great life from there but that wasn’t the case. Her life was filled with tragedy. Within two years of marrying Mary lost Percy in a sailing accident where he drowned. She also lost one of her step-sisters to suicide.

Mary Shelley died February 1st 1851 at the age of 53. She had been suffering for many years with debilitating headaches and partial paralysis. Her physician believes that Mary died due to brain cancer.

Books about Mary Shelley

In Search of Mary Shelley: The Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein By Fiona Sampson

Making the Monster: The Science Behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein By Kathryn Harkup

The Monsters: Mary Shelley and The Curse of Frankenstein By Dorothy Hoobler and Thomas Hoobler

My Current Reads

DaymaresDaymares by Kenya Moss-Dyme

Daymares is a 230 page collection of seven disturbing little tales of terror by Kenya Moss-Dyme:

In Baby Mine, a woman faces the ultimate ‘morning-after’ following a lust-filled night with a brutish former lover;

A landlord rules his apartment building with sharp precision in 1st of the Month;

Junebug/The Flat Earth tells the story of a little boy who refuses to lie down and play nice with his tormented stepmother;

Ride takes you on a 911 call when a cop with a secret meets his karma in the cornfields;

A grieving widower mourns the loss of his selfish and controlling better half in Her Things;

An innocent game of Tag takes a frightening turn when the little ones hang out at the Playground; and,

A Colder Kind of Hell brings us the story of a crafty defense lawyer who is so good at his job that all hell breaks loose.

Book cover for Husk by Rachel Autumn DeeringHusk by Rachel Deering

In this all-too-real work of horror fiction, Rachel Autumn Deering explores the mind of a young man who is struggling to cope with the effects of post-war stress, drug addiction, self-doubt, and loneliness as they manifest themselves into his deepest, darkest fears.

Kevin Brooks returns to his rural Kentucky hometown after a three-year-long tour of duty in Afghanistan. He has lost the grandparents who raised him, his lifelong best friend, and his trust in the government he once proudly served. When Kevin meets a kind, young girl named Samantha, he thinks his luck might have finally taken a turn for the better. But something else has its eye on Kevin. Something dark and brooding and mean. Something that knows Kevin better than he knows himself.

Recently Finished

New Releases for January 2019

The Release I am looking most forward to:

haumntingThe Haunting of Henderson Close by Catherine Cavendish

Ghosts have always walked there. Now they’re not alone…

In the depths of Edinburgh, an evil presence is released.

Hannah and her colleagues are tour guides who lead their visitors along the spooky, derelict Henderson Close, thrilling them with tales of spectres and murder. For Hannah it is her dream job, but not for long. Who is the mysterious figure that disappears around a corner? What is happening in the old print shop? And who is the little girl with no face?

The legends of Henderson Close are becoming all too real. The Auld De’il is out – and even the spirits are afraid.


On January 8th we announced the Ladies of Horror Fiction Awards. Ladies if you are releasing: a debut, novel, novella, collection or poetry book between Jan 1st 2019 and Dec 31st 2019 please send send a mobi copy to The subject line of the email should be LOHF Awards Submission and include the award category in the body of your email. Or if you have any questions please check out the Awards blog post included in the show notes.

Ladies!! We need to know about your new releases. Please let us know via email or twitter.

We are running our LOHF Writers Groups. There is still time and a room to join. If you want to join please send in an email to Jen at and she can get you signed up.

Horror Community News

Author Lucy Taylor’s book Dancing with Demons is going to be reprinted by Necro Publications. I don’t have a reprint date as of recording but if it changes after I’ll update the show notes when I have a date. You can check out the new release page .

If you are looking for female led horror podcasts then we have some for you:

Calling Darkness is a horror-comedy audio drama from the pens of NoSleep Podcast writers S.H.Cooper and Gemma Amor. 

Cower in fear as our guest star Narrator guides you around Crowe House. Tremble as you listen to the terrifying yet titillating adventures that take place within the walls. Come and say hello to our intrepid gang of girls, a special book, a Demon, and other odd folk.

Featuring voice talents from across the world of audio and podcasting, fully immersive sound, and a script to die for- quite literally- you are listening to Calling Darkness.

Tanarive Due is the co-exec producer for Horror Noir which is going to be released on Shudder on February 7th 2019.

There is a blog that I think that everyone should have a look at it is called Diversity in Horror Fiction

There is an incredible list of horror books by diverse writers.

If you would like to reach out to the LOHFpodcast, our email address is You can also tweet me at @toni_the_reader or @lohfiction. We would love to hear about new releases, news in the community, and suggestions for the podcast. You can find out more about the members of the Ladies of Horror Fiction via our website at

The music for this episode is from Nicolas Gasparini at

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