Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
(1797 - 1851)

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was the daughter of feminist and intellectual Mary Wollstonecraft and radical novelist William Godwin, and is perhaps best known for her Romantic Gothic novel, Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (1818)

Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin was born on August 30, 1897. Mary's mother died of "childbed fever" (septicimia) on September 10, 1797 at the age of thirty-eight, ten days after Mary's birth.

Mary Shelley's life with the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley was also marked by traumatic loss. Three of their four children died before the age of three, and her husband drowned the month before his 30th birthday, after only six years of marriage.

While there are plenty of references to Percy Bysshe Shelley's vegetarianism it's not perfectly clear whether or not Mary Shelley abstained from eating meat for any extended period in her life.

Karen and Michael Iacobbo, co-authors of Vegetarians and Vegans in America Today, refer to Mary Shelley as a vegetarian, whereas the author of The Sexual Politics of Meat, Carol J. Adams, does not make the same claim. But Carol J. Adams does highlight an often overlooked aspect of Mary Shelley's creature: Victor Frankenstein's monster was vegetarian.

"My food is not that of man; I do not destroy the lamb and kid to glut my appetite; acorns and berries afford my sufficient nourishment."


mary wollstonecraft shelley
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Carol J. Adams states:

The Creature's vegetarianism not only confirms its inherent, original benevolence, but conveys Mary Shelley's precise rendering of themes articulated by a group of her contemporaries whom I call "Romantic vegetarians." ...


frankenstein's monster


The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol J. Adams, 1990

Iacobbo, Karen and Michael, Vegetarians and Vegans in America Today. Praeger Publishers, 2006

A Vindication of Natural Diet: Being One in a Series of Notes to Queen Mab by Percy Bysshe Shelley (available online through

Promotional photo of Boris Karloff from the movie Frankenstein

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Read Frankenstein online (download for free) or purchase from


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