Thursday, 7 July 2016

Visit Bath and Follow in the Footsteps of Mary Shelley

Bath’s connection to Jane Austen is well known. Not only did Jane write two books which feature the city as a location (Northanger Abbey and Persuasion), but she also lived here between 1801 and 1806. There are other authors too whose links to Bath are sometimes referenced. Charles Dickens visited the city and it’s thought that he based The Old Curiosity Shop on a shop which he found here, and the award winning author Jacqueline Wilson was born in Bath. One author whose connections to Bath are mentioned so often is Mary Shelley.

Mary Shelley moved to Bath in September 1816, along with her soon-to-be husband Percy Shelley, so that she could be close to her stepsister Claire Claremont who was pregnant out of wedlock with Lord Byron’s child. While she was living in Bath, Mary continued work on the novel which she had begun that summer at Lake Geneva – the novel which would become Frankenstein.

From the 16th of June until the 30th of September this year, to mark the 200th anniversary since the novel began to be written (although begun in 1816, it wasn’t published until 1818), Show of Strength Theatre Company are conducting nightly theatrical walking tours of Bath in which they will reveal the city’s forgotten role in shaping Mary Shelley’s masterpiece. The walk will reveal the scandals and drama underpinning the creation of the novel, what really happened between herself and her infamous friends, and it will explore the incredible and unmarked locations where she lived and which inspired her gothic muse…  

Those attending the tour will discover where Mary’s mother (the infamous Mary Wollstonecraft) lived, where Mary Shelley wrote the majority of Frankenstein during her four month stay in Bath, and will learn the truth about the Shelleys’ mystery Bath address which doesn’t exist. The tour will also explain what Frankenstein is really about below the surface.

Each walking tour begins at 7:30pm from Rebecca’s Fountain, which lies just to the side outside of Bath Abbey, and finishes at around 8:45pm. The length is about one mile, and is completely on the flat so is suitable for everyone. Tickets are £8 (cash only) and there is no advance booking required.  

If you’re coming to Bath this summer there are lots of walking tours you can do; the free walking tours offered by the Mayor’s Honorary Guides (10:30am and 2pm daily (excluding Saturdays – 10:30am only)), Regency walking tours, comedy walks – the list goes on. However, a tour about Frankenstein and Mary Shelley and Bath isn’t one we’ve come across before, and it certainly shows you a side of Bath that not many people know about. So it’s well worth doing if you’ll be coming to visit Bath before the end of September!

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