10 facts about Frankenstein author Mary Shelley

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Hollywood star Elle Fanning will tackle a monster role (sorry couldn't resist) as Frankenstein author Mary Shelley in a new biopic.

The film, called A Storm in the Stars, will be directed by critically acclaimed filmmaker Haifaa al-Mansour (Wadjda). The story focuses on the romantic relationship between the English novelist and the poet Percy Shelley. Their torrid love affair began when Mary was still a teenager and Percy was married.  

Mary Shelley's life was certainly full of fascinating and tragic experiences, ones that no doubt inspired her when writing her gothic horror classic Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus

Here are 10 facts about the writer:

1. Her parents were two of England's most prominent writers and political philosophers: early anarchist William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. Wollstonecraft, one of history's most famous women's rights advocates, died days after giving birth to Mary Shelley (then, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin).

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2. She began an affair with married poet Percy Shelley, who was a fan of her father's ideas, at the age of 17.

3. The pair travelled together and actually spent time holidaying with the infamous Lord Byron around Geneva, Switzerland, where she started writing drafts of Frankenstein.

4. The impetus for writing Frankenstein came after Percy, Byron, Mary and their travelling companions had intense discussions about the occult, and the group decided on a competition to see who could write the best horror story. We're pretty sure Mary can be declared the winner of that little contest.

5. She and Percy married after Percy's troubled wife Harriet was discovered dead in a lake after having been missing for weeks. Some conspiracy theories postulated that Harriet was killed, possibly by William Godwin himself!  

6. The first edition of Frankenstein was published, anonymously, in 1818, when Shelly was only 20 years old. She had finished writing the book at age 19.

7. The initial reviews of the book weren't particularly kind. The Quarterly Review described it as "a tissue of horrible and disgusting absurdity."

8. But the story became very popular, especially after it was adapted into thrilling stage plays. The earliest production took place in London in 1823. It was such a success that, over the next few years, copy-cat plays and even burlesque parodies emerged.

9. Mary Shelley gave birth to four children in her life, but only one survived.

10. Percy Shelley died suddenly, less than a month before his 30th birthday. He drowned after his boat sank in the Gulf of La Spezia. Mary never re-married and continued her career as a writer and editor, before dying at the age of 53, likely of a brain tumour.