Creatures of Fancy – Mary Shelley in Dundee (2019)


A book of essays exploring Mary Shelley’s time in Dundee, the influence it would have on her life and work, and the rapidly growing scientific and cultural life of the town in the early 19th century.




Gordon Bannerman, Kenneth Baxter, Daniel Cook, Matthew Jarron

In June 1812 the future author of Frankenstein, Mary Godwin (later Mrs Percy Shelley), arrived in Dundee as a guest of the Baxter family. Her time in the rapidly developing town would have a significant influence on her – here for the first time she was inspired to become a writer.

This publication looks at Mary’s connections to Dundee through three separate essays, with a foreword by Billy Kay. In the first chapter, Gordon Bannerman describes the background to her visit, the connections between her family and that of textile merchant William Thomas Baxter, the friendship she developed with Baxter’s daughter Isabella and the subsequent influence of Isabella’s husband David Booth. All of this is considered in the context of the unique religious and political life of Dundee.

Mary’s visit coincided with notable developments in medicine and an increasing interest in studying nature and science, as well as a growth of popular literature and a new theatre for the town. In the second chapter, Matthew Jarron and Kenneth Baxter explore both the cultural and scientific life of Dundee at this time.

In the final chapter, Daniel Cook examines the depiction of Scotland in both Frankenstein and a later novel, The Last Man, showing that Mary’s experiences during her time here continued to have an impact on her work.