And there are other factors in Mary’s life that we should review before we proceed.
She had not stopped writing. In fact, in January 1826 she published another novel, The Last Man, a futuristic story about an epidemic that wipes out most of humanity. (We’ll get into that novel in a subsequent chapter.)
Mary soon discovered that Jane Williams—a woman she considered her dearest friend since both had lost husbands in that July 1822 boating accident in Italy—was in fact betraying her.
Mary was also seeing her father fairly regularly, a habit that did not sit well with Godwin’s wife, Mary Jane, with whom Mary had never been close, principally because of that common conflict (among our oldest?)—stepmother verses stepdaughter. It didn’t help that Mary Jane’s daughter, Claire, had also run off with Shelley in 1814, and Mary Jane laid much of the blame for that and for the ensuing scandal right at Mary Shelley’s feet.
But during these post-Washington Irving years there are several other compelling stories about Mary that I want to explore a little—her involvement with Diana Mary Dods and, in a separate episode, with the remarkable Frances “Fanny” Wright and, tangentially, with Frances “Fanny” Trollope, the mother of famed English novelist Anthony Trollope.