Surely if you’re reading this, you’ve read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and you’re just longing for more. How many of Shelley’s other works are you familiar with? I did some digging and found the rest of her novels that must be added to your TBR. I didn’t even know some of these existed and I’m so upset about it! While I am unsure how I’ve gone my entire literature life without these, there’s no time like the present! Keep reading for five books by Mary Shelley to add to your TBR that aren’t Frankenstein.
There is no specific order to these– If you want me to be honest, the descending order of the titles from short to long gave me a lot of satisfaction. You’ll find a little bit of everything here.
You may know this novel by its alternative name The Beautiful Widow. This penultimate novel dives into the intertwined relationships between three women who are bound together by Lord Lodore– Hint: the name! There is Cornelia, Lodore’s estranged wife, as she is ruled by her mother and the societal norms of the aristocratic lifestyle. Next there is Ethel, Lodore’s daughter, who is raised in Illinois completely dependent of her father. Last, you meet the independent and very educated Fanny Derham. Fanny is the daughter of Lodore’s childhood friend.
Many consider this the most Austen-like and socially oriented of all of Shelley’s novels. Sounds like it is next on my list!
A professor I had in graduate school gifted this novel to me and now I get to recommend it all to you!
Mathilda is one of two long works of fiction by Mary Shelley. This novella dates between August 1819 and February 1820, but believe it or not, Mathilda was first published posthumously in 1959. There are a few trigger warnings including suicide and incest, so make sure and read up on this novella before purchase!
Mathilda is narrating from her deathbed as a young woman barely through her twenties as she writes a story to her friend. This story details her lonely upbringing and her father confessing his incestuous love for her.
If you are wanting a more historical novel this one is for you. Valperga details the adventures of the early fourteenth-century despot Castruccio Castracani. Castracani is a real historical figure who became the lord of Lucca and conquered Florence. The armies he possessed threatened the Valperga fortress, which was governed by Countess Euthanasia. She also happens to be the woman he loves.
This leads to a choice— She must choose between her feelings for him and political liberty.
The Last Man
There truly is a little for everyone on this list! This dystopian science fiction novel depicts a future where a mysterious plague pandemic almost decimates the world’s population in the 21st century. It is believed that “The Last Man” in the novel, Lionel Verney, is an autobiographical figure for Mary Shelley. Adrian, Earl of Windsor is based on Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Raymond is said to be based on Lord Byron.
This is widely considered to be the first dystopian novel— It was first published in 1826. However, upon publication, it wasn’t received well and didn’t gain favor until around the 1960s. Before this people believed it to be a prophecy and deemed it obscure. By the 1960s, it became more recognized as fiction and gained popularity.
The Fortunes of Perkins Warbeck: A Romance
Last on the list is another historical novel from 1830 about the life of Perkins Warbeck. The message in this novel is similar to that in The Last Man that “an idealistic political system is impossible without an improvement in human nature.”
Perkins Warbeck was a pretender to the throne of King Henery VII who claimed to be Richard, Duke of York, the second son of King Edward IV. Shelley’s story fictionalizes the exploits of Warbeck.
Hopefully you found one new book to add to your TBR, but I hope you end up giving all of these books a try. There’s a little bit of everything by Mary Shelley that isn’t Frankenstein!
Looking to satisfy your Frankenstein itch? Click here for my favorite Frankenstein quotes that will have you craving a reread!