Years 1817-1824

A Chronology of the Life of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley: 1817-1824

|1817 |1818 |1819 |1820 |1821 |1822 |1823 |1824|

1817 12 Jan Claire gives birth to her daughter by Byron. She initially names the child Alba, later changing it to Allegra at Byron's request. Since Claire remains secluded at Bath, she and the Shelleys are able to keep the child's existence a secret from almost everyone else, including the Godwins.
2 - 8 Mar The Shelleys live with Peacock in Marlow. On March 18, they move into Albion House, Marlow, where Claire and Allegra join them a week later.
27 Mar A Chancery suit denies PBS custody of his and Harriet's two children, Charles and Ianthe.
14 May MWS completes Frankenstein
2 Sep MWS gives birth to a daughter, Clara Everina.
[6] Nov History of a Six Weeks' Tour Through a Part of France, Switzerland, Germany, and Holland: With Letters Descriptive of a Sail round the Lake of Geneva, and of the Glaciers of Chamouni (London: T Hookham, Jun.; and C. and J. Ollier), written by MWS and PBS, is published anonymously.
1818 1 Jan Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (London: Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, and Jones) is published in three volumes. Both PBS's publisher, Charles Ollier, and Byron's publisher, John Murray, had declined to publish the novel.
Reviews of the novel.
10 Feb After selling Albion House at the end of January, the Shelleys and Claire move to 119 Russell Street, London.
11 Mar The Shelleys, Claire, Allegra, and two servants leave London for Dover to undertake an Italian journey and arrive in Calais the next day. The party travels through France, staying in Lyons 21-25 March. They then travel to Italy and stay in Milan for three weeks in April.
28 Apr Claire sends Allegra to Byron in Venice. Byron, who wishes to avoid Claire, only allows her to visit her daughter if she is accompanied by the Shelleys.
7 May The Shelleys travel to Pisa, then to Leghorn on 9 May, where they stay at the Hotel di Malta. In Leghorn, MWS meets Maria Gisborne.
11 Jun The Shelleys and Claire move to Casa Bertini, Bagni di Lucca.
14 Jun MWS writes Walter Scott, who had favorably reviewed Frankenstein for Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine but had conjectured that PBS wrote the book. She thanks him for his review and acknowledges herself as the novel's author.
17 Aug PBS and Claire travel to Venice in hopes of persuading Byron to relinquish Allegra. Byron refuses, but, believing MWS and the children to be with them, he permits the Shelleys and Claire to visit the girl at his villa in Este. On 31 August, at PBS's insistence, MWS and her children quickly travel to Este. They arrive on 5 September.
24 Sep Clara Everina dies in Venice from dysentery she had contracted during the hurried journey to Este.
Sep-Oct The Shelleys and Claire remain at Byron's villa in Este.
5 Nov The Shelley party travels through Ferrara, Bologna, and Rome. After a week in Rome, they depart for Naples on 28 November, arriving on 1 December.
20 Dec In her journal, MWS enters "Correct Frankenstein," possibly correcting the copy that she presented to Mrs. Thomas, an Englishwoman she met in Genoa, by July 1823.
27 Dec An infant, registered on 27 February 1819 as "Elena Adelaide" is born in Naples. PBS and "Marina Padurin" are listed as the parents. The identity of this child is still a mystery. Some theories claim the girl was PBS's illegitimate child; other suggest that she was an infant he planned to adopt in order to replace Clara. The Shelleys leave Naples the next day.
1819 5 Mar The Shelleys and Claire travel to Rome, moving into the Palazzo Verospi on 7 March.
7 Jun William Shelley dies from malaria and is buried in the Protestant Cemetery. The Shelleys leave Rome on 10 June.
17 Jun The Shelleys move to Leghorn. On 24 June, they move to Villa Valsolvano, near Montenero.
Aug - Feb 1820 MWS writes Matilda, which she sends to Godwin in 1821. He does not attempt to get the work published, and it remains unpublished until 1959.
2 Oct The Shelleys and Claire move to the Palazzo Marini, Via Valfonda, Florence. Claire leaves for Vienna on 10 November.
12 Nov MWS gives birth to a son, Percy Florence.
1820 26 Jan The Shelleys move to Tre Donzelle, Pisa.
Mar MWS begins writing a novel which she calls Castruccio, Prince of Lucca, although she had first concieved of the story's idea in Marlow. Godwin will later change its title to Valperga.
Apr-May MWS writes her mythological dramas, Proserpine and Midas.
Jun Paolo Foggi, the Shelley's former servant whom they had dismissed in January 1819, and who had married their servant Elise Duvillard, attempts to blackmail PBS over the mysterious Neapolitan child, Elena Adelaide. Although his attempts fail, he and Elise do succeed in turning the Hoppners, friends of Byron and the Shelleys, against the Shelleys by claiming that Elena's parents were PBS and Claire. On 10 June, Elena Adelaide dies.
Jun-Oct The Shelleys move back to Bagni di Lucca on 15 June, then relocate to Casa Prinni, at the Bagni San Giuliano, also known as the Bagni di Pisa, on 5 August, and finally to Casa Galetti, Pisa on 29 October.
21 Oct PBS's cousin, Thomas Medwin, visits the Shelleys in Pisa.
Late Nov The Shelleys meet Emilia Viviani, the beautiful daughter of the governor of Pisa, confined to a convent until her marriage. PBS develops an infatuation and writes Epipsychidion for her.
1821 19 Jan The Shelleys meet Edward and Jane Williams, a common-law couple, through Medwin. Edward Williams and Medwin had served in the army together in India.
5 Mar The Shelleys move to Casa Aulla, Pisa.
8 May The Shelleys return to Bagni di San Giuliano. The Williamses move to Pugnano, four miles away.
Jul The first translation of Frankenstein is published in France: Frankenstein; ou le Prométhée Moderne (Paris: Corréard), translated by Jules Saladin.
End of Aug MWS finishes Valperga. She corrects and copies the novel through early December.
25 Oct The Shelleys move to Tre Palazzi di Chiesa, Pisa
1 Nov Byron arrives in Pisa with his mistress, Teresa Guiccioli.
1822 Jan After much wrangling with Ollier for an advance, the Shelleys send MWS's manuscript of Valperga to Godwin for publication, instructing him to keep the revenue from its sales. He delays publication, however, and it does not appear until 1823.
14 Jan Edward John Trelawny, a friend of the Williamses and Medwin, and an admirer of PBS and Byron, arrives in Pisa.
19 Apr Allegra Byron dies from typhus in a convent school.
30 Apr The Shelleys and Claire take a summer residence at Casa Magni, San Terenzo. The Williamses join them on 1 May.
16 Jun MWS miscarries and almost dies from the resulting hemorrhaging.
1 Jul PBS and Edward Williams sail to Leghorn in Shelley's boat, the Don Juan, to meet the Hunts. On 8 July, they return and, sometime during the voyage, drown in the Gulf of Spezia. Their bodies are found ten days later.
20 July MWS, Jane Williams, and Claire return to Pisa.
14 Aug PBS's body is cremated at Viareggio. Williams' body is cremated the day before.
Sep MWS and Jane Williams depart to Casa Negroto, Genoa on 11 September. On 17 September, Jane returns to London with a letter of introduction to Hogg. Claire leaves Pisa on 15 September, going to Florence and then to Vienna.
Sep-Dec MWS transcribes cantos 10-12 of Byron's Don Juan. She also begins to transcribe PBS's poetry in preparation for a posthumous collection.
1823 1 Jan "A Tale of the Passions" appears in the Liberal, II, 289-325.
21 Jan PBS's ashes are interred in the Protestant Cemetery, Rome. Attempts to bury PBS's remains with those of his son are thwarted when an adult skeleton is discovered in the child's grave.
19 Feb Valperga: Or, the Life and Adventures of Castruccio, Prince of Lucca (London: G and W.B. Whittaker) is published in three volumes. Reviews of the novel.
24 Feb Byron sends MWS a letter from Sir \ Shelley, PBS's father, who initially denies MWS support and insists that he will only provide for Percy Florence if MWS relinquishes custody of him.
[23] Apr "Madame D'Houtetot" appears in the Liberal, III, 67-83.
Jul MWS composes her poem, "The Choice."
25 Jul MWS and Percy Florence leaves Genoa for England, arriving on 25 August.
28 Jul Presumption; or The Fate of Frankenstein, a play by Richard Brinsley Peake, opens at the English Opera House for a run of 37 performances. MWS sees a production on 28 August.
Reviews of the play.
30 Jul "Giovanni Villani" appears in the Liberal, IV, 281-97.
11 Aug A second edition of Frankenstein (London: G. and W. B. Whittaker) is published in two volumes. The text is probably corrected by William Godwin, and the title page names "Mary W. Shelley" as the author.
18 Aug Frankenstein; or, the Demon of Switzerland, a play by Henry M. Milner, opens at the Royal Coberg Theatre for a run of eight performances.
1 Sep Humgumption; or, Dr. Frankenstein and the Hobgoblin of Hoxton, opens at the Royal Coburg Theatre for a run of six performances.
Presumption and the Blue Demon opens at the Davis's Royal Amphitheater for a run of two performances.
8 Sep MWS and Percy Florence move from the Godwin's residence to 14 Speldhurst Street, Brunswick Square. Also in September, she reconciles with Isabel Baxter Booth.
20 Oct Another Piece of Presumption, by Richard Brinsley Peake, opens at the Adelphi Theatre for a run of nine performances.
27 Nov MWS receives an allowance of £100 per year for Percy Florence from Sir Timothy Shelley.
1824 Jan "Recollections of Italy" appears in the London Magazine, IX, 21-6.
Feb MWS begins writing The Last Man.
Mar "On Ghosts" appears in the London Magazine, IX, 253-56.
Apr "The Bride of Modern Italy" appears in the London Magazine, IX, 351-63.
19 Apr Lord Byron dies in Greece. MWS sends a tribute to the London Magazine, but it is never published.
Jun Posthumous Poems of Percy Bysshe Shelley (London: John and Henry L. Hunt), a volume of PBS's unpublished poems, is published. MWS edits the volume and writes a signed preface. On 23 June, MWS learns that a displeased Sir Timothy Shelley will halt Percy Florence's allowance until she both stops publication and promises not to publish any more of PBS's writings in Sir Timothy's lifetime.
21 Jun MWS and Percy Florence move to 5 Bartholomew Place, Kentish Town, nearJane Williams.
Aug Sir Timothy Shelley increases Percy Florence's allowance to £200.
13 Dec Frank-in-Steam; or, The Modern Promise to Pay opens at the Olympic Theatre for a run of four performances.

Go to 1797-1816
Go to 1825-1835
Go to 1836-Posthumous


Published anonymously
Unless indicated, all of Mary Shelley's publications are anonymous, although the title pages often attribute the work to "The Author of Frankenstein", a designation possibly used both to appease Sir Timothy Shelley, who did not want to see his son's name in print, and to capitalize on the popularity of MWS's first novel.

Three weeks in April (1818)
Bennett: 4 April - 1 May
Crook, Feldman and Scott-Kilvert: 4 April
Stocking: 21 April to 1 May

2 Oct 1819
Bennett: 2 October
Feldman and Scott-Kilvert: 7 October

26 Jan 1820
Bennett: 26 Jan
Crook: 27 Jan
Stocking: 10 Jan

Apr - May 1820 Crook: Apr-May
Sunstein: Winter

29 Oct 1820
Bennett, Crook: 29 Oct
Stocking: 31 Oct
Sunstein: 25 Oct

1 Nov 1821
Bennett, Sunstein, and Stocking: 1 Nov
Crook: 3 Nov

30 Apr 1822
Bennett: 30 Apr
Crook: 27 Apr
Feldman and Scott-Kilvert: [May]
Sunstein: Shelleys leave Pisa on 26 Apr and move into Casa Magni on [30] Apr.

14 Aug 1822
Feldman and Scott-Kilvert, and Sunstein: 14 Aug
Bennett: 15 Aug

Last Modified on 11 February, 1998
Page created by Shanon Lawson. Any questions or comments, please e-mail

Other MWS Resources