February 1, 2008

Rest in Peace, Mary Shelley

On this date, February first, in 1851, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley passed away at her home in London. Her devoted son, Percy Florence, and his wife, Jane, were at her side.

Mary Shelley was but 51 years old. Ill health had plagued her and, towards the end, she was partially paralyzed. A doctor had diagnosed a brain tumor.

Mary was buried in St.Peter’s churchyard, in Bournemouth. According to Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler’s The Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein, Percy Florence arranged for Mary’s parents’ to be re-interred there with her, but the rector of the church would not allow the earthly remains of such radicals as Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin onto consecrated ground. Lady Jane Shelley is said to have boldly led the two hearses to the cemetery’s gates and announced that she would wait there until allowed in.

Mary was thus reunited with her parents. Percy Florence and Lady Jane would, in turn, come to join her, in 1889 and 1893, respectively. The grave also contains the heart Percy Bysshe Shelley, which Mary had kept since his drowning death in 1822.

Mary Shelley on Find a Grave.

A tour of Bournemouth and another view of Mary’s burial place, on Dorset Life.

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