This article is part of an exploration of Frankenstein or The Modern Day Prometheus and it’s author Mary Shelley by The FrankenPod (A Frankenstein Podcast).
Top image: Nerijus Navickas [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Percy Bysshe Shelley was married twice in his short lifetime. He had two children, Ianthe and Charles from his doomed marriage with Harriet and four children with Mary, only one of which survived into adulthood. But what happened to these kids that came from one of the most discussed tragedies of the romantic movement. Prepare yourself for a lot of child death, it’s going to get grim.
Ianthe Elizabeth Shelley
Daughter of Harriet and Percy
Born: 28th of June, 1813, Middlesex, London, England
Died: 16th of June 1876, Gloucestershire, England
Commonly called Eliza, Ianthe married Sir Edward Jefferies Esdaile. Harriet left her some of Percy’s rough draft notebooks later referred to as “The Esdaile Notebooks”. There is also a book of Percy’s Sonnets addressed to her.
She had six children, one of which is listed as being born after Ianthe’s death on geni which is weird, not sure what is happening there. Her children were named; Ianthe Harriet, Eliza Margaret, Charles Edward Jefferies, William, Mary Emily Sydney, Una Dean (which is the one that is mysteriously born after her death? I think it might be an estimate. If anyone knows what is going on here please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org)
Born: 12th (?) of November 1814
Died: Struck by lightning in 1826?
I can’t find any corroboration for the lightning, he would have been 12. He did however have tuberculosis so it is more likely he succumbed to that. Both Charles and Ianthe were in the care of their maternal family after their mother’s suicide.
Daughter of Percy and Mary
Born in 1815, died at 13 days old
Son of Percy and Mary
Born: 24th of January 1816
Died: 2nd of January 1819
Named after his grandfather, William Godwin, William travelled with his parents from the moment he was born. He was present at the holiday by Lake Geneva. He had the nickname Willmouse and in a time of high infant mortality was doing pretty well, until he contracted cholera in Italy. He died aged 2. There seem to be similarities between Willmouse and William, the younger brother of Frankenstein who is the creature’s first murder victim.
Clara Everina Shelley
Daughter of Percy and Mary
Born: 14th of May 1817
Died: 24th September 1818
Clara died as an infant whilst the family was travelling.
Elena Adelaide Shelley
Daughter of Percy and “Marina Padurin”
Referred to by Shelley as his “Neopolitan ward”
Born: 27th of December 1818
Died: 10th of June 1820
The details of this baby girl are somewhat of a mystery, some claim she was Claire Clairmont’s baby (Mary Shelley’s sister), others claim that she was adopted by Shelley in a perhaps misguided attempt to distract Mary from the death of her children. There is a further theory that perhaps she was the daughter of Percy and the Shelley family nursemaid Elise Fogg. Elena was left in the care of an Italian family and died a year and a half later.
Percy Florence Shelley
Born: 12th of November 1818
Died: 5th of November 1889
Percy Florence Shelley deserves a whole post of his own as he was largely responsible for Mary’s legacy after her death and his influence had shaped contemporary understandings of her authorship in much the same way a Charlotte Brontë “preserved” her family legacy. So we will come back to him at a later date.
geni_family_tree. (2018). Ianthe Elizabeth Esdaile. [online] Available at: https://www.geni.com/people/Ianthe-Esdaile/6000000018078868508 [Accessed 27 Feb. 2018].
Knarf.english.upenn.edu. (2018). Harriet Shelley. [online] Available at: http://knarf.english.upenn.edu/People/hshelley.html [Accessed 26 Feb. 2018].
Knarf.english.upenn.edu. (2018). Percy Bysshe Shelley. [online] Available at: http://knarf.english.upenn.edu/PShelley/pshelley.html [Accessed 27 Feb. 2018].
Knarf.english.upenn.edu. (2018). William Shelley. [online] Available at: http://knarf.english.upenn.edu/People/wshelley.html [Accessed 27 Feb. 2018].
Wikitree.com. (2018). Ianthe Eliza (Shelley) Esdaile (1814-1876) | WikiTree FREE Family Tree. [online] Available at: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Shelley-562 [Accessed 27 Feb. 2018].