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Following on from the success of Genius: Picasso, National Geographic has announced the third season of its acclaimed scripted anthology series will bring to life the mythmaker and towering literary figure Mary Shelley.

From Fox 21 Television Studios, the new season will again be executive produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment, MWM Studios and EUE / Sokolow. The new season will premiere globally on National Geographic in 172 countries and 43 languages in 2019. The first season of Genius was watched by more than 45 million people around the world, and was National Geographic’s highest performing new series launch ever.

 

Mary Shelley

A brilliant thinker, radical intellectual and proto-feminist, Mary Shelley (1797-1851) brought to life one of the most enduring stories of the modern age while still a teenager. Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, is a cautionary tale of unchecked scientific ambition and a sophisticated meditation on social institutions, personal freedom and compassion. 

Frankenstein has captured imaginations and continues to be relevant since it was first published 200 years ago. Shelley masterfully invented the Science Fiction / Horror genre with her tale of a creature brought to life, subsequently going on to create the Post-Apocalyptic genre with her later novel, The Last Man.

An intellectual prodigy, inspired from an early age by the writing of her unconventional mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, Shelley was determined to prove that women were the intellectual and creative equals of men.

One of few women to support herself as an author during the early 18th Century, Shelley wrote novels, short stories, reviews, travelogues, and made prolific contributions to the world’s first encyclopaedia. Shelley’s inner circle included countless literary and scientific luminaries of the day, including: Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Mary and Charles Lamb, Humphry Davy and Leigh Hunt.

Shelley met the love of her life, the romantic poet, amateur scientist and still-married Percy Bysshe Shelley, at the age of 16. After losing her virginity to Percy at her mother’s gravesite, the pair eloped and were cast out by her father, the radical intellectual William Godwin.

Shelley was to endure a lifetime of tragic misfortune, watching three of her four children die, losing multiple friends and family members to suicide, and outliving her husband, who drowned at sea. In true gothic style, Shelley elected to keep her late husband’s heart after his death.

 

Shelley’s writing was heavily influenced by the great scientific innovation and experimentation of the early 19th century. Scientists like Luigi Galvani, Giovanni Aldini and Erasmus Darwin (grandfather of Charles), figured prominently in her life. The story of Frankenstein was inspired in part by one of the most important scientific theories of the time, galvanism, the study of the effect of electricity on the dead bodies of animals and humans.   

Mary Shelley spent the last few years of her life being looked after by her only surviving child, Percy Florence Shelley, before dying of a brain tumour at the age of 53.

The first season of Genius, starring Geoffrey Rush as Albert Einstein, earned 10 Emmy nominations, a Golden Globe nomination and SAG Award nomination.

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