Frankenstein's Bolthole; Peaceful Riverside Retreat Where Author Mary Shelley Put the Finishing Touches to Her Monstrous Creation

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), May 31, 2015 | Go to article overview

Frankenstein's Bolthole; Peaceful Riverside Retreat Where Author Mary Shelley Put the Finishing Touches to Her Monstrous Creation


Byline: Brian Claridge

THE words could not be more evocative of peace and tranquillity: 'I am now on the point of taking a lease on a house among these woody hills, these sweet green fields and this delightful river.' They were written by the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, about the house he and his wife Mary were to move into in 1817.

So it is ironic that the property in question - Albion House in Marlow, on the River Thames in Buckinghamshire - was where Mary completed what is regarded as the greatest horror story of all time, Frankenstein.

The Shelleys married in 1816 and secured a 21-year lease on Albion House, but they would occupy it for only a year. The Shelleys never stayed in one place for long - they were fond of travelling around Europe, but also dogged by the threat of creditors, as well as sadness at the survival of only one of their five children. However, Percy is said to have been extremely fond of Marlow, especially the walk upstream to Medmenham Abbey, which Mary described as one of his favourite retreats.

In the winter, the Romantic poet could be seen walking round Marlow wearing a long brown coat with lambswool collar and cuffs, while in the summer he would defy convention by wearing an open-necked shirt with no cravat, when cravats were the norm.

Similarly, he often wore no hat, at a time when men were regarded as undressed without one. Albion House, which is believed to date from the mid-1700s, was split into four, separate, white-stuccoed houses a century ago, each with its own name. There is Shelley Lodge, Shelley House and Shelley Cottage, with one keeping the name Albion House.

A commemorative plaque on the building states: 'The Poet and Playwright Percy Bysshe Shelley and his wife Mary, authoress of Frankenstein, lived here 1817-1818. …

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