Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin was born in 1797, the daughter of two of the leading radical writers of the age. Her mother died just days after her birth and she was educated at home by her father and encouraged in literary pursuits. She eloped with and subsequently married the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, but their life together was full of hardship. The couple were ruined by disapproving parents and Mary lost three of her four children. Although its subject matter was extremely dark, her first novel Frankenstein (1818) was an instant sensation. Subsequent works such as Mathilda (1819), Valperga (1823) and The Last Man (1826) were less successful but are now finally receiving the critical acclaim that they deserve.