'Mary's Monster' Presents a New Period Piece on Mary Shelley

Kit Harington and Clara Rugaard will star as Mary Shelley and her Monster in Mary's Monster
Kit Harington and Clara Rugaard will star as Mary Shelley and her Monster in 'Mary's Monster' (HBO/ABC)

Some works of fiction are pivotal in the making of modern storytelling, like Bram Stoker's Dracula. And there are some groups of literary artists make you wish you could go back in time and be part of their intellectual circle, like Dorothy Parker's Algonquin Round Table. But no one has both the historically significant works of fiction and the cultural allure of Mary Shelley and her circle of friends from the romantic period. Daughter of William Godwin, the first modern proponent of anarchism, and feminist activist Mary Wollstonecraft, she wrote Frankenstein, married Percy Shelley, slept with the poet Lord Byron, and inspired the writer John William Polidori

Shelley and Byron's lives have already been the subject of numerous films, historical series, and other romantic dramas. The latest is Mary's Monster, a new film heading to the Cannes Film Market, due to start production in August 2022, to be helmed by Farren Blackburn (The Fades). However, this is not just your standard period piece but will be a high concept story of Mary's struggle to write the novel, wrestling with "her monster." Like Dickinson and The Great, this is what one might consider a nu-period piece, where the historical mixes with contemporary culture. The film is being billed as a "high-concept, rock-n-roll take" on the Romantic period by the production, and Deadline calls it a period film with "a contemporary sheen to it." 

Director Blackburn describes the project as "a film about the female voice, mental health, gender politics, and disenfranchised youth." She goes on: "For me, no character in history has ever captured the zeitgeist quite like Mary Shelley, and Mary's Monster is the defining period film for the modern YA generation. As a filmmaker, I love that genre allows us to hold a magnifying glass up to these kinds of issues and look at them in the most imaginative way possible, and in my opinion, it doesn't get more imaginative than Mary Shelley facing off against her own inner Monster! Films this unique and original don't come along too often, and I'm beyond excited to be at the helm."

Mary Shelley and Friends in a recent Doctor Who episode
Mary Shelley and Friends were recently featured in Doctor Who (BBC America)

The film's official synopsis reads:

Mary is seduced by her own inner monster catapulting her into a dangerous, destructive psychological romance. Realising the monster is inextricably linked to her own mental state, her only route to salvation is in bringing him to life.

Danish actress Clara Rugaard (The Rising) stars as Mary Shelley, with Kit Harington (Game Of Thrones) as "The Monster." Ferdia Walsh-Peelo (CODA) has been cast as Mary's husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Sebastian de Souza (Normal People) plays Byron. The rest of the cast has not yet been set. 

Mary's Monster is up for auction, but even if a streaming service like Netflix or AppleTV+ wins the bidding war, there are high chances it will still hit theaters. With filming starting in August 2022, moviegoers can probably expect the move to reach the festival circuit next year before making a run at awards season for 2024.