Did you know that Mary Shelley was not credited as the author of Frankenstein when the first edition came out? And that the book was published anonymously?
Publishing a book as a woman in the 18th and 19th centuries wasn’t an easy task. Being involved in any type of business, such as profiting from book sales, was considered inappropriate for a woman of the time. However, this didn’t deter women from writing. In order to overcome the problem of authorship, many women published their books in anonymity or using pen names, and Mary Shelley also had the same fate at the beginning of her literary career.
When she finished composing her novel Frankenstein in May 1817, she decided together with her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, to keep her authorship secret. Due to the morbid subject of the book, another ‘inappropriate’ thing for women to deal with at the time, she also feared she might lose custody of her children.
After several failed attempts to find a publisher, on 1 January 1818 Messrs. Lackington, Allen & Co. printed 500 copies of a three volume edition of Frankenstein.
The book became popular, and with many believing Percy to be the real author of the book, Mary Shelley remained the unacknowledged writer of Frankenstein until 1821, when a French translation came out and she was finally credited. However, it took her two years to receive the same kind recognition in her own country, when eventually a second edition that credited her as the author came out and a written advertisement for Frankenstein with her name on it appeared in the Morning Chronicle, , 11 August 1823, 200 years ago.
In collaboration with other writers and artists all over the world, to honor her and her own mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, who was an early advocate of women’s rights, and the writer of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, we will be sharing this post using the hashtag and to celebrate the remarkable achievements of Mary Shelley, as well as those of many other female writers.
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