Literary Career of Novelist Mary Shelley After 1822

Author: Webster-Garrett, Erin L.
This book focuses on Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s literary career after 1822, and Dr. Webster-Garrett explores the neglected end of the “Mary Shelley Story” and questions inherited images of her as a bourgeois satellite of masculine genius and as a child prodigy whose genius faded after The Last Man. The study contextualizes Shelley’s later career in terms of the rise of discourses of influence to describe sociopolitical, cultural, spiritual, and sexual relationships, and in terms of the rise of Romantic cultural anxieties regarding the ascendance of the popular novel and romance to positions of cultural influence. Shelley’s late novels each showcase a female principal who exerts a fully conscious and fully cognizant force on her textual world. In 1830, this deviation gained more significance as Shelley, for the first time, created a narrative in which a beautiful woman, Katherine Gordon, survives a masculine narrative in order to tell her own alternative tale. Her post-1830 novels trace the ultimate subversive act for a woman in the nineteenth-century: continued existence. As such, they demonstrate a dramatic reversal of Shelley’s approach to romantic prose fiction and suggest her need to separate herself from romance as a masculinist tradition that compulsively celebrates the death of a beautiful woman.


“ … This work is ambitious in its scope and undertaking … it succeeds because it brings together so many important strands in the fields of both Mary Shelley scholarship and Romantic literature. Dr. Webster-Garrett sheds new light on the texts she considers and should compel others to revisit the worlds of Mary Shelley’s fiction and look under any apparent convention to determine a larger career project. For Mary Shelley was … so much more than a one-book woman. She has a wealth of engaging material and imagination to offer us if we will only turn the pages; Dr. Webster-Garrett’s study compels us to do so again and again.” – (From the Preface) Professor Lucy Morrison, Salisbury University

“After extensively summarizing prevailing scholarship on Mary Shelley and Romantic theories of sympathetic influence, [the author] persuasively argues that Shelley’s post-Frankenstein novels … subvert the dominant patriarchal tradition they appear to uphold … this book will provide not only a much needed reassessment of the later works of Mary Shelley; it will also present an alternative version of Romantic sympathy.” – Professor Eleanor McNees, University of Denver

“ … [this work] is an important contribution to Shelley scholarship, and one that reflects extensive research within and beyond the corpus of Shelley’s works. Not only does the project display an admirable command of the Mary Shelley corpus – a feat reserved for only the most serious Shelley scholars – it also delves deeply into the literary, historical, and intellectual backgrounds to Shelley’s work.” – Professor Andrew Franta, University of Utah

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
1. The Quest for the “Author of Frankenstein”
2. Mary Shelley and the Popular Novel
3. Romancing History in The Fortunes of Perkin Warbeck
4. Romancing Revolution: The Spanish Chapters of Perkin Warbeck
5. Anti-Romance and the Female Quixote
1. The Politics of Disenchantment: Re-Envisioning the Mary Shelley Story
Chapter Notes