The Italian Almanac

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Mary Shelley

Italian News - June 16

A letter by Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein and the wife of English Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, has turned up at an antiques fair in Tuscany. The letter, written nine months after her husband was drowned in a storm at sea, refers to the author's loneliness as she faced life without him and prepared to leave Italy forever.

The missive was found last year by Italian antique collector Jacopo Bojola among a bundle of manuscripts he picked up at a sale near his home town of Pistoia. Although it was signed, he initially thought it was a fake. But when he recently showed it to an expert at the Keats-Shelley Museum in Rome, he was astounded to learn it was authentic.

The letter was sent to Captain Daniel Roberts, the family friend who built the boat in which Shelley drowned off Lerici in Liguria in July 1822. Inviting Roberts and other friends to visit her, she speaks of her home in Albaro, near Genoa, as a "temple of solitude".

Details and references in the letter indicate it was written in April 1823, not long after Shelley's cremated remains were buried at the English Cemetery in Rome.