Mary Shelley is best known in history as the creator of the novel Frankenstein. She died 1st February 1851 and despite never having lived in Bournemouth requested she was buried there. Her wish for this and her deceased parents to join her was met, her parents were buried with her.
Mary Shelley had lost three of her four children to illness and when her husband died she was in the process of recovering from a miscarriage. Her son, Percy Florence, had purchased land there and was arranging to build Boscombe Manor for his sick wife and Mary, his ailing mother. She died before it was completed but she was buried in Bournemouth anyway.
In 1822 Mary’s husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, had died during a boating accident out in Italy. The body washed ashore on a beach near Viareggio and due to quarantine laws it was cremated on the beach. A friend saw this and the heart did not seem to be burning very well, he was able to take it from the pyre and passed it back to Mary Shelley. It sounded like a very bizarre and romantic thing to do but most likely Edward John Trelawny was more interested in the object for his own collection. He was eventually persuaded to hand the heart to Mary Shelly and the heart then ended up at Boscombe Manor for many years.
It is worth noting that it was not customary for the wife to attend such a thing either, and that the picture below isn’t quite right because of that. It is also worth noting it was a hot day and not so bleak as the picture shows, his body was doused in wine and the head was intense from the weather and fire. The corpse fell open and from there the heart was laid bare, it was surprising to see that it remained in tact and
When her son, Percy Florence Shelley, died he was buried in the family tomb. At the same time the heart was slipped into the tomb. The two were finally united.
“Shelley, the writer of some infidel poetry, has been drowned, now he knows whether there is a God or not.” – Courier of London
Louis Édouard Fournier, entitled The Funeral of Shelley.