This family tomb, in a small churchyard in Bournemouth town center, is best known as the final resting place of Mary Shelley, author of the 1818 novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. But in this small plot, you will find an entire literary dynasty.
It was Mary’s wish to be buried with her parents. After her death from a brain tumor in 1851, her son arranged for them to be exhumed and moved to a family plot at St. Peter’s Church.
Mary’s parents are also notable in their own right. Her father was the journalist, novelist and philosopher William Godwin. Godwin is most famous for his promotion of atheism, anarchism, and personal freedom. Her mother was the celebrated feminist, and author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollstonecraft.
Also buried in this tomb is the heart of her husband, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Following his death in 1822, Mary kept the heart in a silken shroud, which she is said to have carried with her nearly everywhere for years. In 1852, a year after she died, the heart was found in her desk. It was buried here with their son, Percy Florence Shelley, when he died in 1889.
Know Before You Go
Situated in Bournemouth town centre, the churchyard is open 24 hours a day.