This is one of the best biographies I have read in a long time. Actually, it is a double biography, because the chapters alternate between Mary Shelley's life and her mother's, Mary Wollstonecraft. Beside being extremely well researched, this book illustrates the profound influence of Wollstonecraft on her daughter, her beliefs, her life and her work. I read it while preparing a lecture on Frankenstein and am very happy I did, because it's really hard to appreciate Mary Shelley without being aware of her mother's works and philosophy. The book is not all "intellectual," however. There are several sections devoted to everyday life that make it even more charming and real. For example, there are the notes that Wollstonecraft sent Godwin telling how what to give little Fanny to eat (not too much pudding!). It's a book for everyone interested not just in Mary Shelley but also in her family - her parents, her husband, her stepsister - and in the time when she lived and the hypocrite moral conventions that she defied.