[Note: Many of the books listed here, especially those in the final section, ‘Criticism', have useful bibliographies which will guide you to further sources of information and ideas.]

Works by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein [1818 text] by Mary Shelley. Ed. Marilyn Butler. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994


Frankenstein [1818 text] by Mary Shelley. Ed. D. L. Macdonald and Kathleen Scherf. Peterborough Ontario; Broadview Press, 1994

  • Editions of the text on which this guide is based; both with useful editorial matter.

Frankenstein [1831 text] by Mary Shelley. Ed. Maurice Hindle. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1985

Frankenstein [1831 text] by Mary Shelley. Ed. Johanna Smith. London: Palgrave, 2000

  • Another edition of the revised version, together with a useful selection of recent critical essays.

The Last Man by Mary Shelley. Ware, Herts: Wordsworth Classics, 2004.

  • Another of Mary Shelley's novels, published in 1826, set in the late 21st century.

The Letters of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley by Mary Shelley. Ed. Betty T. Bennett. 3 vols. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1988

  • Mary Shelley's letters offer essential background to her life and ideas.

The Journals of Mary Shelley, 1814-1844 by Mary Shelley.Ed. Paula Feldman and Diana Scott-Kilvert. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987

  • Another excellent source for understanding Mary Shelley's work in the context of her life.

Works by Mary Shelley's predecessors and contemporaries

Plutarch's Lives by Plutarch.[available in several volumes from Penguin Classics]


Paradise Lost by John Milton. Ed. John Leonard. London: Penguin Books, 2003


The Sorrows of Young Werther by J. W. von Goethe. Translated and ed. Michael Hulse. London: Penguin, 2006

  • The three classic texts that form the monster's education.

An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793) by William Godwin. London: Penguin Books, 1985

  • Frankenstein contains numerous echoes of this important work by Mary Shelley's father.

Caleb Williams (1794) by William Godwin. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998

  • Novel by Mary Shelley's father that makes an interesting comparison with Frankenstein.

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) by Mary Wollstonecraft. London: Penguin Books, 1992

  • This significant work by Mary Shelley's mother had an influence on the ideas expressed in Frankenstein.

The Major Works by Lord Byron. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000


The Major Works by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000


The Major Works by P B Shelley. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003

  • Mary Shelley knew all three of these poets and refers to or quotes from their work in Frankenstein.

The New Oxford Book of Romantic Period Verse by Jerome J. McGann. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993

  • Excellent, wide-ranging anthology that presents the period in a fresh light.

Romanticism: an Anthology by Duncan Wu. 3rd edition. Oxford: Blackwell, 2005

  • Comprehensive and helpful anthology which includes both prose and poetry by Mary Shelley's contemporaries.


Shelley: the Pursuit by Richard Hughes. London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1974. Penguin Books, 1987

  • The most recent standard biography.

Mary Shelley: Her Life, Her Fiction, Her Monsters
by Anne Mellor. London: Routledge, 1988

  • Comprehensive and detailed biography, together with a full discussion of Shelley's literary achievement.

Mary Shelley by Miranda Seymour.London: John Murray, 2000

  • Another good and detailed biography.

The Godwins and the Shelleys by William St Clair.London: Faber & Faber, 1989

  • Very useful for the way in which it sets Mary Shelley in a family context.

The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft by Claire Tomalin.London: Penguin Books, 1992

  • Excellent biographical and intellectual study of Mary Shelley's mother.

Context and background

Gothic by Fred Botting. London, Routledge, 1996

  • Extremely helpful and informative short introduction.

Romantics, Rebels and Revolutionaries: English Literature and its Background 1760-1830 by Marilyn Butler. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981

  • Excellent introduction to the general context of Romanticism.

Romanticism by Aidan Day. London: Routledge, 1996

  • Short and clear introduction to this complex topic.

A Handbook to English Romanticism Jean Raimond and J. R. Watson (eds). London: Macmillan, 1992

  • Useful work of reference, with entries on many of the figures mentioned or discussed in this guide.


In Frankenstein's Shadow: Myth, Monstrosity and Nineteenth Century Writing by Chris Baldick.Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987

  • Shows how the image of the monster was used in later 19th-century culture.

Frankenstein. Contemporary Critical Essays Fred Botting (ed). Macmillan, 1995

  • Excellent collection of essays offering readings of the novel from a wide range of critical viewpoints.

Women's Gothic: from Clara Reeve to Mary Shelley by E. J. Clery. London: Northcote Press, 2000

  • Places Frankenstein in the context of this influential genre.

Hideous Progenies: Dramatizations of Frankenstein from Mary Shelley to the Present by Steven E. Forry.Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990

  • Survey and discussion of the cinematic adaptations of the novel.

The Madwoman in the Attic: the Woman Writer and the Nineteenth Century Imagination by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar.New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979

  • Classic feminist discussion of the novel.

English Fiction of the Romantic Period 1789-1830 by Gary Kelly. London: Longman, 1989

  • Includes a brief discussion of Frankenstein in a wider cultural and literary context.

Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature by Susan E. Lederer.Piscataway, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2002

  • Explores the origins of Frankenstein and its impact on popular culture.

The Endurance of Frankenstein: Essays on Mary Shelley's Novel George Levine and Ursula C. Knoepflmacher (eds). Berkeley:

University of California Press, 1979

  • Extremely useful and wide-ranging collection of critical essays.

A Routledge Literary Sourcebook on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein by Tim Morton. London: Routledge, 2002.

  • Very helpful and informative collection of contextual material.

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein: A Reader's Guide to Contemporary Criticism Berthold Schoene-Harwood (ed). London: Palgrave, 2000

  • Survey of the critical response, from publication to the present day.

The Cambridge Companion to Mary Shelley by Esther Schor.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003

  • Collection of essays on all aspects of Mary Shelley's life and career.

Mary Shelley by Muriel Spark. London: Constable, 1988

  • Study of Mary Shelley's writing in the context of her life; interesting because written by a distinguished novelist.

A Mary Shelley Encyclopedia by Staci L. Stone.Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2003

  • Another useful reference book.

Scan and go

Scan on your mobile for direct link.