myself/& i loved her/…fiercely.” This refrain is taken up by all the women, becoming a “song of joy, ” dedicated in the play's closing lines to “colored girls who have considered suicide/but are moving to the ends of their own rainbows.”
See also Hurston, Zora Neale; Lorde, Audre; Walker, Alice.
Lisa R. Williams
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was born in 1797 in London and died there in February 1851. She was the daughter of William Godwin, the political philosopher, whose major work Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793) espoused anarchy and the moral theory of utilitarianism, and Mary Wollstonecraft, the feminist author of A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792). Wollstonecraft died from complications in childbirth, and though Godwin remarried some four years later, Shelley never experienced the joys of a happy home life. When she was only sixteen, she met the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and they became lovers. Soon, she was pregnant, and, with the dissolution of the poet's first marriage, the two married in 1816.
Shelley was early and often acquainted with tragedy. Her first three children died before she was twenty-two; in 1816, her half-sister, Fanny Imlay, committed suicide; and in July of 1822, her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, died by drowning. Though she wrote prolifically throughout her life, her most admired work remains Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, published in 1818.
During the summer of 1816, Mary Wollstonecraft and Percy Bysshe Shelley were visiting with Lord Byron and his personal physician, a Mr. Polidori, and the four each decided to write a ghost story. Mary Shelley recounts in her 1831 introduction to the third edition of the book that the story was written during “a wet, ungenial summer, ” with “incessant rain” confining the group to the house. She cast about for a story that “would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature, and awaken thrilling horror—one to make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart” (171). The genesis of her story is found in conversations between P.B. Shelley and Lord Byron in which “various philosophical doctrines were discussed, and among others the nature of the principle of life, and whether there was any probability of its ever being discovered and communicated” (171). Shelley confesses that she “was a devout but nearly silent listener” (171). Of the four, only she finished a story, and the result,