Lauritsen assembles an overwhelming case that Mary Shelley, as a badly educated teenager, could not possibly have written the soaring prose of "Frankenstein" (which has her husband's intensity of tone and headlong cadences all over it) and that the so-called manuscript in her hand is simply one example of the clerical work she did for many writers as a copyist.
Nonetheless, despite her stepmother's efforts, Mary received an excellent education, which was unusual for girls at the time. She never went to school, but she was taught to read and write by Louisa Jones, and then educated in a broad range of subjects by her father who gave her free access to his extensive library. In particular, she was encouraged to write stories, and one of these early works "Mounseer Nongtongpaw" was published by the Godwin Company's Juvenile Library when she was only eleven. "Mounseer Nongtongpaw" was a thirty-nine stanza expansion of Charles Dibdin's five-stanza song of the same name. Written in iambic tetrameter, it tells of John Bull's trip to Paris where all of his questions about the ownership of everything he sees meet with the same response: "Je vous n'entends pas" (I don't understand you). He takes this phrase as referring to a Monsieur Nongtongpaw, whose wealth and possessions he greatly envies. At the same time, Godwin allowed her to listen to the conversations he had with many of the leading intellectuals and poets of the day.
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