Back in England, 1823, Mary begins earning her living with her pen ...
After Bysshe drowned in the summer of 1822, Mary devoted herself to working on a full, authoritative edition of his poems. No one was better suited for the task. For nearly a decade she’d been in his life, and theirs was a literary partnership of the best kind. He read her work in draft; she read his. (You can see his suggestions for Frankenstein on the extant manuscript—and he, recall, was the one who encouraged her to expand that story into a novel.)
And, of course, she also was intimately familiar with his handwriting, with the various drafts of his poems (she knew which was the most current), with the layout on the page he would have liked.
And so she threw herself into the task, writing the preface, arranging for publication—dealing with it all.
It was a highly emotional preface that Mary wrote, despite her referring to him throughout as “Mr. Shelley.” On the second page of it came this: He is to them [his intimates, including, of course, Mary herself] as a bright vision, whose radiant track, left behind in the memory, is worth all the realities that society can afford. She wrote, as well, about his drowning, about the day the news arrived. The truth was at last known,—a truth that made our loved and lovely Italy appear a tomb, its sky a pall. Every heart echoed the deep lament ….
Her name—Mary W. Shelley—appears below the preface, along with the date, June 1, 1824.
Some 309 copies sold in the first couple of months. And then … Sir Timothy Shelley caught wind of the publication, and things very quickly changed.