The daughter of feminist and radical Mary Wollstonecraft and political philosopher William Godwin, Mary Shelley eloped with Percy Bysshe Shelley when she was only 16. The two traveled across Europe, and Mary eventually wrote a travel book about their flight. They married two years later, after Shelley's first wife drowned herself. Mary Shelley began FRANKENSTEIN in 1816 as part of a contest suggested by Lord Byron when the Shelleys were visiting him in Italy, and turned it into a full-length novel with the encouragement of her husband. Despite the social and artistic stimulation of a close circle of friends, and Shelley's success as a poet, the Shelleys' lives were not free from pain: in the space of two and a half years, they produced four children, losing three of them in infancy, and by the time Mary was 24, she was also a widow: Shelley drowned in the Gulf of Spezia while out sailing. Forced to support her one remaining child, Percy, Jr., until he inherited his grandfather's baronetcy and estate in 1844, Mary Shelley turned to writing novels, reviews, and travel articles; her last book, RAMBLINGS IN GERMANY AND ITALY, was a a two-volume account of a trip she took with her son and some of his Cambridge friends. FRANKENSTEIN, her novel of the "Modern Prometheus", eventually achieved a measure of fame and became a bestseller; by 1825, there were six different stage adaptations. In the years since, it has been endlessly transformed and increasingly debased by its many movie versions. Mary Shelley died, probably of a brain tumor, at the age of 53. It was often said that she was famous for her parents, her husband, and her monster.