15 June 1816—the original dark and stormy night: Mary & Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, his personal physician John Polidori, and Claire Clairmont, Mary’s step-sister and Byron’s lover, were staying at the Villa Diodati on the shores of Lake Geneva. Inclement weather kept the quintet house-bound and on one particularly tempestuous evening, Byron entertained the group by reading aloud from a volume of ghost stories then challenged his guests to compose their own. Claire’s and Percy’s contributions, if either seriously attempted one, have been lost to time; Byron produced a fragment, which Polidori would later appropriate and expand into “The Vampyre”, while Mary’s idea would germinate into her classic novel, Frankenstein. One of the most fascinating moments in literary history, the night has inspired countless books, academic papers, television documentaries, and films—from the prologue scene in James Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein to Rowing with the Wind, in which Hugh Grant plays Lord Byron, and Ken Russell’s Gothic.

“But it proved a wet, ungenial summer, and incessant rain often confined us for days to the house. Some volumes of ghost stories, translated from the German into French, fell into our hands…. ‘We will each write a ghost story,’ said Lord Byron; and his proposition was acceded to…. I busied myself to think of a story, —a story to rival those which had excited us to this task. One which would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature, and awaken thrilling horror—one to make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart. If I did not accomplish these things, my ghost story would be unworthy of its name…. Night waned upon this talk, and even the witching hour had gone by, before we retired to rest. When I placed my head on my pillow, I did not sleep, nor could I be said to think. My imagination, unbidden, possessed and guided me, gifting the successive images that arose in my mind with a vividness far beyond the usual bounds of reverie. I saw—with shut eyes, but acute mental vision, —I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion. Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavour to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world. His success would terrify the artist; he would rush away from his odious handywork, horror-stricken. He would hope that, left to itself, the slight spark of life which he had communicated would fade; that this thing, which had received such imperfect animation, would subside into dead matter; and he might sleep in the belief that the silence of the grave would quench for ever the transient existence of the hideous corpse which he had looked upon as the cradle of life. He sleeps; but he is awakened; he opens his eyes; behold the horrid thing stands at his bedside, opening his curtains, and looking on him with yellow, watery, but speculative eyes. I opened mine in terror. The idea so possessed my mind, that a thrill of fear ran through me, and I wished to exchange the ghastly image of my fancy for the realities around…. ‘I have found it! What terrified me will terrify others; and I need only describe the spectre which had haunted my midnight pillow.’ On the morrow I announced that I had thought of a story. I began that day with the words, It was on a dreary night of November, making only a transcript of the grim terrors of my waking dream.”—Mary Shelley, from her introduction to the 1831 edition of Frankenstein

Lord Byron Appreciation Post

I’m a big fan of Mary Shelley and her husband Percy Shelley, and they were good friends with Lord Byron, so I felt like reading up on him.

I was not disappointed.

  • THE DUDE WAS BISEXUAL. He had loads of love and sexual affairs with both men and women, and when he died from a fever at the age of 36 it was one of his male lovers, Loukas Chalandritsanos, that was with him.
  • They think that his flirty and sexual ways were influenced by the fact that he was sexually abused as a child, by his mother’s maid (who was then fired) and by his mother’s suitor Lord Grey de Ruthyn.
  • HE LOVED ANIMALS SO MUCH - when his beloved dog Boatswain had rabies, Byron insisted on staying with him, treating him, nursing him as well he could without fear of being bitten and infected himself. When Boatswain died, Byron had a funeral monument built for him which was bigger than his own (and he was already in debt at the time but he didn’t care cuz it was for his precious pup) and he wrote in his will that he wanted to be buried with him.
  • At university he was told that he wasn’t allowed to keep dogs (this was when Boatswain was still alive btw), and out of spite HE BROUGHT A FUCKING BEAR INTO THE UNIVERSITY because nowhere in the rules did it say that he wasn’t allowed to keep bears. He even tried to get a college fellowship for the bear, so that it legally had to stay - for some reason that didn’t work.
  • Like I mentioned above, he was friends with the Shelleys, and when they were all on a trip to Geneva along with John William Polidori and Claire Clairmont, Byron suggested that they write ghost stories to pass the time: Mary Shelley’s ghost story turned out to be Frankenstein.
  • He was an amazing swimmer. The first notable example of open water swimming took place on May 3rd 1810, and it was Byron himself who swam from Europe to Asia across the Hellespont Strait. Also, when he was sailing to Cephalonia, every day at noon he was jump overboard to have a swim, despite the fact that sharks were known in the area (ultimate yolo)
  • Byron was born with a deformity in his right foot, known as “clubfoot”, and he was extremely self-conscious about it, nicknaming himself “le diable boiteux” (”the limping devil” in French). This didn’t stop him from being a dank swimmer tho.
  • He was such a sassy shit. In his letters to Francis Hodgson, he nicknamed William Wordsworth “Turdsworth” because of how much he disliked him.
  • He was the king of passive-aggressiveness. If ever someone pissed him off, he’d write about them in a poem: for example, when Lord Elgin took the Parthenon Marbles, he “reacted with fury” and denounced his actions in his poem The Curse of Minerva.
  • Before he died, Byron joined the Greek War of Independence and was considered a hero by the Greeks. It’s said that if he hadn’t died, he might have become the next King of Greece (which is now proven to be extremely unlikely - but shh he’s totally king material just sayin)

anonymous asked:

Today I decided to do some light research on Mary Shelley's family, as I've seen you talk about her chaotic life at a couple of points, and OH MY GOSH HER LIFE WAS CRAZY. Illegitimate children all over the place, mean step-parents, elopement, constant financial woes, suicide, a growing family feud... THIS IS LIKE LIFE WITH THE KARDASHIANS TIMES TEN!!!

Oh my dude, you have no idea!!! Do you know how much I would give to see an Office-style reality show about Mary Shelley’s life??? Episodes could include moments like:

  • Mary getting stuff published before she hits puberty (like a boss) 
  • The family hosting AARON BURR for dinner (because that did happen)
  • Mary writing angrily in journal about her father remarrying. Godwin and Mary Jane Clairmont fighting in the background. “Anyone after my Mother: Feminist Icon Mary Wollestoncraft is settling.”
  • Illegitimate daughter of Mary Wollestoncraft Fanny Imlay staring into camera like she’s in The Office. 
  • Mary and Percy making out over Mary’s dead mom’s grave. 
  • Mary not being 100% sure if Percy is more in love with her or her dad (literally, Percy wrote Godwin fan mail).
  • Percy running around, threatening suicide if Mary doesn’t elope with him. 
  • Elopement commences, only for Percy to bring along Mary’s nemesis stepsister Claire Clairmont because…why not. 
  • Claire Clairmont never stops trying to have Byron’s babies. Literally offers to sleep with him in exchange for him reading over her “manuscript”. (An offer which he accepts, of corpse)
  • Byron and Mary boating expeditions. 
  • John Polidori and Byron fighting over Vampire fan fiction.  
  • Percy showing up naked in Mary’s sitting room while she has guests over.
  • Percy low-key setting Mary up with his college bud. “Yeah, he sleeps with all my ex girlfriends.” (Mary glares at camera)
mbti as English Romanticism squad:

Mary Shelley: flower child, listens to ultraviolence 100 times a day, falls for the Bad Boy and never stops loving him, life on the run, shy nerd, loves books and just cant help it, did her research, knows the answers but people keep talking over her (INFP)

William Blake: is everything but never one thing, overflowing with creation and self-expression, inspired by literally everything, too cool (distracted) for school, a visionary, single-handedly defines fashion and aggressively rebels against anything unfashionable, spends last cents on a glue-gun (ENFP)

William Wordsworth: receives criticism badly or horribly, brooding almost always, party time aka going hiking in the Alps, experiences and draws own conclusions, refuses to submit to rules other than the rules of nature and endurance and maybe death (ISTP) 

Lord Byron: assumed responsibility maybe once, Shaggy-It-Wasn’t-Me-10-Hour-Version.mp3, 60 love affairs a day actually remembers maybe 2, Jack Sparrow with extra self-imposed emo episodes, hides insecurity with yoloswag, the right amount of sex, drugs, and rocknroll is MORE, do you see this limited edition albanian cashmere scarf??? it’s no big deal (ESTP)

John William Polidori: extremely under-appreciated, my best friend is credited with everything but it’s okay, smarter than anyone in the squad by far, genius-level science nerd but only 2 people know about it, quietly consumed by depression, (INTP)

Percy Shelley: chaotic good, rich kid with robin hood philosophy, SJW in theory, avoids responsibility at all costs in reality, king of all hipsters, got beaten up in highschool 4 billion times a day, lowkey mad scientist, ahead of the curve by at least a century (ENTP)

Edward John Trelawny:  changed his own diapers, ready to debate your ass, also ready to set you on fire, actually takes care of shit when needed, got maybe 25% of credit for being a badass but couldn’t care less, lowkey master strategist, fucking cool on the DL, has backup plan, outlives everyone (INTJ)

Mary Wollstonecraft: I Don’t Give a Damn About My Reputation!, kicks patriarchy’s ass every day before breakfast, gets shit done, always harsh and critical but actually domestic and motherly, trail-blazer 4 lyfe (ENTJ)

Ada Lovelace: not allowed to have fun, has fun mathematically, rolling deep with alpha genius crew, makes terrible first impression, loved by all once they get to know her, Unpopular Girl at School™  (ISTJ)

Sir Walter Scott: organizes everything always and forever, *is clearly in a state of crisis* i don’t need your charity!, works hard parties never, gives credit where it’s due, slightly/extremely obsessed with antiques (ESTJ)

Maria Edgeworth: can smell a fuckboi from 20 miles away, stays in her lane, takes care of things, embodiment of suburban orderliness and simple happiness, brings the best kind of muffins to the bake sale and everybody loves them but also secretly hates them because they shut down every party 4 hours early (ISFP)

Lady Morgan: tiny and ready to fight, runs through the meadow whimsically, Miss Genuine Popularity™, is here to have a good time, loves: 1. food 2. music 3. dancing, hates: 1. rules and 2. bad vibes (ESFP)

John Keats: aesthetic blogger, gives away his lunch money, embarrassed, in a relationship with melancholy, snuggling with tea and books, rarely in love but then fanatically, talks about pretty things and death (ISFJ)

Claire Clairmont: listen up fives a ten is speaking, talks shit in over 5 languages, Primadonna Girl, lowkey puppetmaster, lives for drama, groupie, will get the most popular guy at school by any means necessary, kinks include being the other woman and attention (ESFJ)

Jane Austen: has an etsy store, is around people a lot but always ends up observing rather than engaging, lowkey loves gossip but hates people who gossip, interested in drama but annoyed by confrontation, family is the real deal, is deeply critical but not openly (INFJ)

Jane C. Loudon: humble, self-aware and well-rounded, genius but that’s a secret even to themselves, great at explaining things to others in a kind and helpful way, appreciates the tiny nice things in life, gets absorbed in other people’s lives (ENFJ)

On This Day...

On this day in 1816, English poet Lord Byron hosted fellow ex-pats Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley, Claire Clairmont, and his personal physician John Polidori at his rented summer home at Villa Diodati in the village of Cologny near Lake Geneva, Switzerland. The weather outside was miserably cold and rainy, preventing any lake excursions. To pass the time, Byron read from the Fantasmagoriana; a French anthology of German ghost stories. At the end of the reading, Byron challenged everyone present to devise their own horror stories. This challenge resulted in Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein, Polidori in writing The Vampyre, and Byron himself in writing the poem “Darkness.”

Keep reading

Oh ho ho.

Reading about Shelley’s life because I really don’t know much about it, and I come across this little gem:

“Claire Clairmont had begun a relationship with the poet Lord Byron, a dark, perverse character who avoided philosophical debates on morality by simply having no ethics whatsoever.”



No matter what I told myself in the quadrangle, my walk home was faster than usual…,  as if every door and wall I put between me and the library somehow kept me safe (ADOW, chapter 12). 

The vampire sat in the shadows on the curved expanse of the bridge that spanned New College Lane and connected two parts of Hertford College…. .The witch appeared, … . She passed underneath him, her pace quickening. Her nervousness made her look younger than she was and accentuated her vulnerability (ADOW, chapter 13). Richard Armitage as vampire Matthew Clairmont (x).Claire Danse as the witch Diana Bishop (x).Photos of Oxford by night (12, 3, 4).

Mary Shelley

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (30 August 1797 – 1 February 1851) was an English novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (1818). She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley. Her father was the political philosopher William Godwin, and her mother was the philosopher and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft. When Mary was four, Godwin married his neighbour, Mary Jane Clairmont. Godwin provided his daughter with a rich, if informal, education, encouraging her to adhere to his liberal political theories. In 1814, Mary Godwin began a romantic relationship with one of her father’s political followers, the married Percy Bysshe Shelley. Together with Mary’s stepsister, Claire Clairmont, they left for France and travelled through Europe; upon their return to England, Mary was pregnant with Percy’s child. Over the next two years, she and Percy faced ostracism, constant debt, and the death of their prematurely born daughter. They married in late 1816 after the suicide of Percy Shelley’s first wife, Harriet. In 1816, the couple famously spent a summer with Lord Byron, John William Polidori, and Claire Clairmont near Geneva, Switzerland, where Mary conceived the idea for her novel Frankenstein. The Shelleys left Britain in 1818 for Italy, where their second and third children died before Mary Shelley gave birth to her last and only surviving child, Percy Florence Shelley. In 1822, her husband drowned when his sailing boat sank during a storm near Viareggio. A year later, Mary Shelley returned to England and from then on devoted herself to the upbringing of her son and a career as a professional author. The last decade of her life was dogged by illness, probably caused by the brain tumour that was to kill her at the age of 53. Until the 1970s, Mary Shelley was known mainly for her efforts to publish Percy Shelley’s works and for her novel Frankenstein, which remains widely read and has inspired many theatrical and film adaptations. Recent scholarship has yielded a more comprehensive view of Mary Shelley’s achievements. Scholars have shown increasing interest in her literary output, particularly in her novels, which include the historical novels Valperga (1823) and Perkin Warbeck (1830), the apocalyptic novel The Last Man (1826), and her final two novels, Lodore (1835) and Falkner (1837). Studies of her lesser-known works such as the travel book Rambles in Germany and Italy (1844) and the biographical articles for Dionysius Lardner’s Cabinet Cyclopaedia (1829–46) support the growing view that Mary Shelley remained a political radical throughout her life. Mary Shelley’s works often argue that cooperation and sympathy, particularly as practised by women in the family, were the ways to reform civil society. This view was a direct challenge to the individualistic Romantic ethos promoted by Percy Shelley and the Enlightenment political theories articulated by her father, William Godwin. Read More || Edit


Gothic (1986, d. Ken Russell)

Gabriel Byrne as Lord Byron
Julian Sands as Percy Bysshe Shelley
Natasha Richardson as Mary Shelley
Myriam Cyr as Claire Clairmont (Mary Shelley’s stepsister)
Timothy Spall as Dr. John William Polidori


Gothic (1986, d. Ken Russell)

Gabriel Byrne as Lord Byron
Julian Sands as Percy Bysshe Shelley
Natasha Richardson as Mary Shelley
Myriam Cyr as Claire Clairmont (Mary Shelley’s stepsister)
Timothy Spall as Dr. John William Polidori