Elle Fanning: Mary Shelley’s struggle still relevant to women today

Elle Fanning says the overlooked struggle of 19th-century Frankenstein author Mary Shelley is still relevant to women today.

The actress, 19, who plays the ground-breaking British novelist in an eponymous film made by Saudi Arabia’s first female director, says Shelley should be greater revered as a feminist icon.

Fanning celebrated the “very inspiring woman”, who penned the novel aged 18, at the movie’s world premiere at Toronto International Film Festival.

“Not many people know it. I remember it was taught in school to me but they never explained what she’d gone through and why she wrote the book,” the American actress told the Press Association.

“It’s not just a Gothic novel, it’s not a monster story, Frankenstein isn’t, it’s very personal and it correlates so much with her life.

“Also the story is very modern in what’s going on with women today as well. It needs to be told – she’s a very inspiring woman.”

The movie, which focuses on the author’s relationship with poet Percy Shelley, played by Douglas Booth, is directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour.

She made her first film Wadjda from the back of a van, communicating with actors via walkie-talkie, because she could not mix with the male crew in public for fear of retribution.

Wadjda went on to win an Oscar nomination and now Al-Mansour has made her first English-language film.

Fanning compared Al-Mansour’s struggle to that of Shelley’s.

Al-Mansour said: “Mary Shelley is a very modern woman. She’s one of the writers who stepped out of line and wrote something that is very masculine. She did not write about social issues like marriage and jealousy.

“We need women like that who are willing to challenge every moral society wants to put on women – and coming from Saudi Arabia it means a lot to me to see women who are willing to do that.”

:: Mary Shelley is out in the UK in July.


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