History of a Six Weeks’ Tour (1817) is a travelogue by Mary Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley. Composed of journal entries, letters, and a poem, History of a Six Weeks’ Tour was published anonymously with a preface by Percy. Detailing their stay in Switzerland during the legendary “year without a summer, ” the travelogue was Mary’s first published work and remains an invaluable text for the study of English Romanticism. When Percy Bysshe Shelley met Mary Godwin, he had initially planned to acquaint himself with her father, a famous philosopher.
Soon, however, the pair fell in love and eloped with Claire Clairmont, Mary’s stepsister. They journeyed through France, Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands before returning home with little money and without the support of their families. In 1816, following the death of their first child, Percy and Mary travelled with Claire to Geneva, Switzerland, where the infamous Lord Byron had rented a villa along the shores of Lake Geneva.
Due to a volcanic eruption in Indonesia, temperatures in Europe and throughout the world plummeted, creating the conditions for the “year without a summer. ” Forced to remain indoors for much of their stay, the group soon grew tired of telling one another folk tales and ghost stories to pass the time. On a whim, Byron suggested they all write their own works of fiction, igniting the spark for some of the defining texts of the Romantic era.
Having never published her own writing before, Mary unwittingly began mapping out her masterpiece. Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus appeared in print two years later, changing the course of English literature forever. With a beautifully designed cover and professionally typeset manuscript, this edition of Mary Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley’s History of a Six Weeks’ Tour is a classic of English literature reimagined for modern readers.