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Mary Shelley

You may wish to consult Shelley for other, similarly-named pages.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (née Godwin) was a 19th century English writer who pioneered what later became known as science fiction, composing the science-based horror story Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, and the future history The Last Man. Shelley's circle of friends included poet Lord Byron and John Polidori, who was one of the first to write about vampires. She was married to Byron's close friend and fellow Romantic poet Percy Shelley.

She was also a companion of the Eighth Doctor and an acquaintance of the Thirteenth Doctor.


Early life[]

Mary Shelley was born Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (TV: The Haunting of Villa Diodati) in the year 1797. (AUDIO: The Silver Turk) Her father, William Godwin, wrote the book Caleb Williams. (PROSE: The Book of the War)

She had a stepsister named Claire Clairmont. (AUDIO: Mary's Story, TV: The Haunting of Villa Diodati)

When Mary was 16, Percy Shelley abandoned his wife and child for her. (AUDIO: Mary's Story)

By June 1816, Mary had a child (AUDIO: The Witch from the Well) named William. (TV: The Haunting of Villa Diodati)

At Villa Diodati[]

In the summer of 1816, (AUDIO: Storm Warning) Mary left her Bishopsgate home in Windsor, England (AUDIO: The Silver Turk) and travelled to Switzerland, (AUDIO: Mary's Story) where Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, John Polidori, Claire Clairmont and she stayed at Villa Diodati near Lake Geneva. (AUDIO: Mary's Story, TV: The Haunting of Villa Diodati) She and Percy also stayed in a chalet named Maison Chapuis, located on the shore of Lake Geneva. (TV: The Haunting of Villa Diodati) Despite not being married to Percy yet, Mary still went by Mrs Shelley at the time (TV: The Haunting of Villa Diodati) and the pair referred to each other as husband and wife. (AUDIO: Mary's Story)

The Eighth Doctor mentioned that he and Professor Chronotis spent time near Lake Geneva with Mary and Byron. (WC: Shada, AUDIO: Shada)

Mary tries to reason with Ashad. (TV: The Haunting of Villa Diodati)

As she would later recount in her foreword to Frankenstein (edition 1831), the incessant rain of this particular summer drew them away from the lake and kept them indoors, at Lord Byron's house, for days. Whilst reading ghost stories together, (AUDIO: Mary's Story) Byron challenged Mary, Polidori and Percy to each write a ghost story of their own. (AUDIO: Mary's Story, TV: The Haunting of Villa Diodati)

By one account, the night of the contest, the Thirteenth Doctor, Yasmin Khan, Ryan Sinclair and Graham O'Brien knocked on the door, seeking shelter from the rain. This led to an encounter with Ashad, the Lone Cyberman. Mary wondered if Ashad was a composite of multiple men and referred to his creators as a "Modern Prometheus". (TV: The Haunting of Villa Diodati)

By another account, while writing her story, Mary saw anomalous lightning out the window and left the lodge to investigate. Despite the Tenth Doctor's attempt to save her, she was attacked by Zzazik and fainted. The Doctor didn't recognise her face, but after she awoke, she wrote "The Modern Prometheus." (COMIC: The Creative Spark)

Though Mary's account said that there were only four individuals present during the ghost story competition, the Eighth Doctor knew this was untrue. The Doctor wished she had been able to tell the real story of what had taken place (AUDIO: Storm Warning) at Villa Diodati. (AUDIO: Mary's Story) In June 1816, at Villa Diodati, the 18-year-old Mary encountered two versions of the Eighth Doctor simultaneously. The older of the two versions introduced himself as Dr Frankenstein. When this older version appeared to have died Percy suggested to make an experiment with lightning on the Doctor's body, modelled after the experiments of signor Galvani on frogs. During the experiment, Percy called himself "the modern Prometheus". This experience, as well as Mary's later travels with the Doctor, must have influenced her science-based horror story Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. After the younger version of the Doctor has helped the older one to recover, Mary left her future husband and their friends and spent years travelling with the younger version of the Doctor. (AUDIO: Mary's Story)

Travels in the TARDIS[]

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From Lake Geneva, the Eighth Doctor took Mary to Vienna on 11 September 1873, where they encountered two Cybermen from Mondas. Mary showed great courage defending her friends from a throng of Marionettenburg puppets with a poker. She also initially took pity on the Cybermen, who were badly damaged and malformed as the result of the crash-landing of their spacecraft. She almost befriended one of them, Gramm, and found a way to partially repair their damage using Galvanic lightning. However, when Gramm threatened to kill her, she managed to thwart its plan to contact Mondas by destroying the Doctor's sonic screwdriver, the only suitable power source for a transmitter. (AUDIO: The Silver Turk)

Mary during her travels with the Eighth Doctor. (AUDIO: The Witch from the Well)

She later visited Lincolnshire in 2011 and in the 1650s, where she encountered some Varaxils who were looking for a human who could channel Odic energy. She also met Aleister Portillon who was obsessed with Lord Byron and had a biography of Mary herself. (AUDIO: The Witch From the Well)

During her travels with the Doctor, Mary met Axons and King Harold at the Battle of Hastings. (AUDIO: Mary's Story)

Another adventure with Mary involved her believing someone to be her brother until the Doctor had pointed out that it was not. (AUDIO: Neverland)

After her encounter with the Bone Lord, Mary decided to leave the Doctor's company, as she feared his other companion: death. (AUDIO: Army of Death)

Later life[]

Also in 1816, Mary encountered the Tenth Doctor when Zzazik, an alien creature wrapped in bandages, was absorbing bolts of energy. This sight provided Mary with inspiration for a scene in Frankenstein. The Doctor mentioned that she looked familiar, but did not comment further. (COMIC: The Creative Spark)

In 1822, Mary was widowed when her husband Percy drowned after his schooner sank off the coast of Italy. (PROSE: Managra) She continued writing to support herself, and eventually died in 1851. (PROSE: History's Finest)

Medium Cornelia Lively claimed that Mary Shelley's spirt had inspired some of her published works. However, Cassandra was aware that these claims were fraudulent and the real spirt of Mary Shelley wasn't happy. (AUDIO: Mystery Lady)


The Eighth Doctor had a copy of Shelley's Frankenstein in his TARDIS library, inscribed to him by her, implying that the two remained on good terms after her departure from the TARDIS. The Doctor read the preface aloud and mentioned that what Mary wrote wasn't the entire truth about what happened. (AUDIO: Storm Warning)

The Twelfth Doctor saw Mary, among other companions, when Bernice Summerfield was hit by temporal energy in the Pyramid Eternia. (PROSE: Big Bang Generation)


Mary had hazel eyes, flecked with green. (AUDIO: The Silver Turk)

Other information[]

Behind the scenes[]

  • A few years after writing Frankenstein, Shelley wrote a little-known science fiction novel called The Last Man, which takes place at the end of the 21st century. In the context of the Doctor Who universe, and the fact that she travelled with the Eighth Doctor, it is possible that her writing of this book may have been influenced by her experiences with the Doctor. The prologue of The Last Man even includes a story of the author and her unnamed travelling companion and cites this adventure as the inspiration for the novel.
  • NOTVALID: Mary Shelley's Monstrous Mashups, a narrative game in Doctor Who The Official Annual 2021, had Mary refer to having witnessed "many horrors" in her life, in an apparent reference to her status as a companion of the Doctor, although its usage of Mary was primarily based on TV: The Haunting of Villa Diodati.
  • Mary and Percy Shelley got married only on 30 December 1816.
  • Return of the Cybermen originally sought to explain the continuity disparities between Shelley's Big Finish tenure as a companion of the Eighth Doctor, and The Haunting of Villa Diodati which contradicts that depiction. In the scene, the Fourth Doctor is warned that his timeline is being rewritten by the fallout of Genesis of the Daleks and the Last Great Time War. The Time Lord messenger foresees, among other things, "A famous author travels with you, then she doesn't". However, this ending was cut from the script and not recorded.[1]