Mary Shelly

You must be nimble, duck as necessary, and quickly accommodated yourself to the colorless fact that the following brief essay is unaccompanied by a pretty picture of, say, some verdant vista, which, being frank, would be scarcely germane to the presently undisclosed (though easily guessed at, given the Promethean title) subject in hand. This cruel strategy is adopted so that the reader may, as it were, taste and savor, with a clean palate, the forthcoming biographical sketch (there, I gave it away).

I wrote this piece waking from a formidable dream and suddenly realizing that I knew very little about Mary Shelly. Topics such as–if fluoride existed as a food additive in her time, would she have insisted on a fluoride free toothpaste?—have never, during long hours of research, been resolved to my satisfaction. You hear nary a word about certain issues either. Did she, for instance, ever consider becoming a professional boxer? There is scant information on her pugilistic aspirations in the numerous biographies I’ve read (and though I’ve never been one to extol the virtues of speed-reading, the practice has some merit). This type of omission is maddening, for I am certain that she would have had a great left hook, and that a sharp shot to the solar plexus, even when delivered by a petite woman, would have made a great signature punch.

In 1826, a daring heist, the likes of which had not been seen, organized by a reserved church organist, known to a ragtag bunch of page-turners as Two Tone Mary, made a splash in the then press. But that was another Mary Shelly–from Tennessee, I think. But now put yourself ringside, it’s the 7th round of a prize fight, and Mary Shelly famously states, after spitting up globs of blood and bubbly saliva, that “poetry is the emasculation of obsession.” Fracturing thoughts are born of fracturing blows, and those following the career of the spindly-legged sportstress were shaken by such revolutionary spittle.

She survived controversy and the Mary Shelly School of Self Defense was opened in 1843, and again in 1846, as a tribute to the great lady of boxing. A decade later, a fire in the small library, next to the fancy and somewhat menacing high-tech hydraulic gym equipment, where incendiary poems and ardent billets-doux were improperly stored, forced the institution to cease its operations.

Please excuse the minor inaccuracies in this short biography (modern gym equipment is clearly anachronistic, sportstress isn’t really a word, etc), but sometimes an author must bend historical fact in order to create an authentic yet rapturous picture, such as the one of the verdant vista you sorrily missed a few fidgety moments ago.



  1. Two Tone Mary from Tennessee? :- )


  2. Well, if it isn’t, “sportstress” (and I see from the squiggly red underline it is not) should be a word.


  3. Well now I’m very curious for the next chapter – did Miss Mary spin her own tales during her three years of rein at the gym? A Sportstress sounds like an appropriate description for a woman of her time.


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