The Tales

Although Mary Shelley is best known for her novel Frankenstein, she was a prolific writer in a variety of genres. In addition to novels, travelogues, reviews, essays, dramas, children’s literature, and biographies, Shelley wrote at least 23 short stories, most of which appeared in literary annuals (Robinson). Fifteen were published in The Keepsake in one decade alone, between and 1828 and 1838 (Robinson). She also edited and published works by her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley after his death in 1822.

The tales in this digital edition have been collected together because they all engage with the themes, motifs, and aesthetic characteristic of Romantic or nineteenth-century Gothic literature. In this way, these tales have much in common with Shelley’s novels, including Frankenstein, of course, but also The Last Man and Mathilda, which, although not always considered to be Gothic novels, evoke the sense of dread that characterizes that genre.

The page for each tale included in this edition provides bibliographic information about that tale, as well as metadata capturing the Gothic motifs, characters, and places that appear. The page also provides a summary of the tale and a downloadable plain text version of the tale that can be used for further study, including text analysis. A link to the tale's illustration and any other intertexts in The Keepsake provides context for the tale. Finally, page images of each tale as it appears in The Keepsake allow you experience reading each tale as it was enjoyed by its first readers, to the extent that the digital medium will allow.

Although the volumes of The Keepsake held in the University of Victoria Libraries Special Collections are in remarkably good condition given their age, some of the bindings have become quite fragile, making it difficult to scan some pages as clearly as others. The illustration for "The Dream," an engraving called "Constance," was missing from the copy of The Keepsake for 1832 that I examined, and therefore an image of that engraving is, I regret, not included in this iteration of the edition. I hope to locate a copy of that volume with the illustration intact and include it in a future version of this project.

Work Cited

Shelley, Mary. Collected Tales and Stories. Edited by Charles E. Robinson. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976.

Read The Tales