Biographies, Letters and Literary Works by ‘The Shelley Circle’
introduction from THE writer
This annotated bibliography lists a large number of books and other resources that students may find useful when undertaking the Special Study. It also provides a source of information for staff. It is one writer’s view of these texts and is offered on that basis.
This bibliography is designed to be of use to students working on Liz Lochhead’s play, Blood and Ice, from a theatrical, rather than from a literary, standpoint. It includes works which provide background material on the author and her place in contemporary Scottish theatre, on the script and how it has been interpreted by directors, as well as by academic critics, and on poems, plays and visual material which may prove inspirational to a director, designer or performer.
Liz Lochhead trained as an artist at Glasgow School of Art and launched her literary career very successfully as a poet, before she turned to writing for the stage. (Blood and Ice, under the title, ‘Mary and the Monster’, was her first stage play.) It is likely, therefore, that much inspiration for those seeking to interpret her play is contained within the play text itself and in cognate poems and the images they create.
Nonetheless, since many commentators on Liz Lochhead’s work have drawn attention to her proclaimed interest in ‘putting new twists on old stories’, it is important to look quite closely at the ‘old story’ which she is revising in Blood and Ice, namely, Mary Shelley’s relationships, intellectual and emotional, with her distinguished parents, with her celebrated husband and their equally famous friends. An understanding of Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, is central to an understanding of Blood and Ice.
It will be clear that this is not a comprehensive bibliography, but a selective one. You should be selective too in how you focus your reading. Usually several alternative works in approximately the same area of interest have been provided. Which you choose will certainly depend on availability, but the majority of the works cited are relatively recent, and most of the older ones should be in good public libraries.
In addition to the books listed below, there is a certain amount of primary resource material in the Scottish Theatre Archive, Special Collections Department, Glasgow University Library, Floor 12. (Tel: 0141 330 6758: Website: http://special.lib.gla.ac.uk/STA/staindex.html). The Traverse Theatre Archive is in the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh. You have to obtain permission from the Traverse to be allowed access to the collection.
Another potentially useful website is ‘Scotland Theatre – a Listing of Scottish Theatre Websites’ – http://www.scotland.inter.het/theatre.htm.’
section 1: Stage History
Mary and the Monster
Belgrade Theatre, Coventry: March, 1981. Directed by Michael Boyd.
Evans, Gareth Lloyd, Guardian, 13 April 1981
Blood and Ice
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh: August, 1981. Directed by Kenny Ireland
Brennan, Mary ,Glasgow Herald, 20 August 1982
Oliver, Cordelia, Guardian, 27 August 1982
Wright, Allen, Scotsman, 21 August 1982
Wardle, Irving, The Times, 1 September 1982
Blood and Ice (first revised version under that title)
Pepper’s Ghost Company, New Merlin’s Cave, London: February, 1984.
Blood and Ice (second revised version under that title)
Winged Horse Touring Productions, Harbour Arts Centre, Irvine, and tour: September, 1986. Directed by John Carnegie.
Brennan, Mary, Glasgow Herald, 24 September 1986.
Radio version: Radio 4, June 1990 and August 1992. Directed by Marilyn Imrie.
Television version, entitled The Story of ‘Frankenstein’: Yorkshire Television: Autumn, 1992. Directed by Jenny Wilkes. (Greatly altered and condensed to 24 minutes).
section 2: Editions
As the Stage History shows, Blood and Ice has been through at least six versions, four for the stage play. Of these three are published and are listed below. An excellent account of the evolution of the script is given in Anne Varty’s chapter ‘Scripts and Performances’ in Liz Lochhead’s Voices, ed. Robert Crawford and Anne Varty, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1993, and a detailed comparison of the last two versions forms the substance of E. Douka Kabitoglou’s essay, ‘Mary Shelley, Liz Lochhead, and the Monster’, in Mary Shelley and her Times, ed. Betty T. Bennett and Stuart Curran, Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins University Press, 2000. The second on the list is the one normally used for critical study.
Lochhead, Liz, Blood and Ice, Edinburgh: The Salamander Press, 1982. The Traverse Plays. ISBN 0907540236.
Lochhead, Liz, ‘Blood and Ice’ in Michelene Wandor (ed.) Plays by Women, Volume 4, London: Methuen, 1985. This is the ‘Pepper’s Ghost’ version and includes an ‘Afterword’ by the author recounting some of the history of the evolution of the script.
Lochhead, Liz, ‘Blood and Ice’ in Michelene Wandor (ed.) Plays by Women, Volume 4, revised edition, London: Methuen, 1988. This is the ‘Winged Horse’ version and includes a slightly extended ‘Afterword’.
It will be very useful to read some of Lochhead’s poetry, particularly Dreaming Frankenstein and Collected Poems, Edinburgh: Polygon Books, 1984, reprinted 1989. ISBN 0904919994. Note pp. 11-15 for poems directly relevant to Blood and Ice.
You may also wish to look at some other plays by Liz Lochhead e.g. Mary, Queen of Scots got her Head Chopped Off and Dracula, London: Penguin Books, 1989. ISBN 0140482202.
section 3: Contemporary Scottish Women Playwrights
Bain, Audrey, ‘Loose Canons: identifying a woman’s tradition in Playwriting’. Randall Stevenson and Gavin Wallace (eds.), Scottish Theatre since the Seventies, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1996, pp. 138-145. ISBN 074860781.
This essay focuses on the principal themes and sources of the emerging ‘loose’ canon of late-twentieth century women dramatists in Scotland. For example, the re-telling of history from a female point of view, discourses of dreaming and neurosis, the change in setting from the domestic to the public sphere, issues surrounding motherhood and the conflict of personal and social responsibility – all of which are relevant to an examination of Blood and Ice.
Hendry, Joy, ‘Twentieth-century women’s Writing: the best of singing birds’, Cairns Craig (ed.), The History of Scottish Literature 4, Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1987, p. 306. ISBN 008037728. McDonald, Jan, ‘Scottish Women Dramatists since 1945’, Douglas Gifford and Dorothy McMillan (eds.), A History of Scottish Women’s Writing, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1997, pp. 494-513. ISBN 0748609164.
Liz Lochhead’s work is analysed along with that of other major post-war dramatists under the following headings: the revision of history, literature and legend; communities of women (including the ambivalent concept of ‘sisterhood’); mothers and daughters; national identity, gender and art, and dramatic language.
McMillan, Joyce, ‘Women Playwrights in Contemporary Scottish Theatre’, Chapman, 43-44, Spring, 1986, pp. 69-75. ISSN 0906772141.
This article laments the paucity of plays by women in Scottish theatre in the mid-1980s, but highlights the achievements of Ena Lamont Stewart, Marcella Evaristi, Liz Lochhead and Rona Munro. McMillan describes Lochhead’s ‘special strength’ as being:
The relevant emotional honesty that makes her ideologically daring. ‘Blood and Ice’, first seen in 1982, is in the purest and most interesting sense a reactionary work, designed to question the validity of liberal ideas about ‘free love’ and the evils of patriarchy in the face of the imperatives of child-bearing and child-rearing. Reizbaum, Marilyn, ‘Canonical Double Cross: Scottish and Irish Women’s Writing’, in Karen E. Lawrence (ed.), Decolonizing Tradition, Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1992, pp. 165-190. ISBN 0252061934.
This chapter sets Liz Lochhead’s work in the context of contemporary feminist and post colonial theory. Although the only play by her to be closely analysed in detail is Mary, Queen of Scots got her Head Chopped Off, the general tenor of the argument, interrogating issues such as feminism and nationalism, also provides a useful entrée into Blood and Ice.
Scullion, Adrienne, ‘Contemporary Scottish women Playwrights’, Elaine Aston and Janette Reinelt (eds.) The Cambridge Companion to Modern British Women Playwrights, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000, pp. 94-118. ISBN 0521 595339.
A section of this chapter is devoted to the dramas of Liz Lochhead, under the heading ‘Nature and gender’. Scullion explores the playwright’s use of history, myth and memory, her interrogation of woman’s role as ‘creator’ and her vibrant use of language.
Triesman, Susan C.,‘Transformations and transgressions: Women’s discourse on the Scottish stage’ in Trevor R. Griffiths and Margaret Llewellyn-Jones (eds.), British and Irish Women Dramatists since 1958. A Critical Handbook, Buckingham and Philadelphia, Open University Press, 1993, pp. 125-134. ISBN 0335096026
Sets the plays of Liz Lochhead in the context of women’s playwriting in Scotland in the period between 1960 and the late 1980s, citing writers such as Marcella Evaristi, a collaborator with Lochhead in their early revues, Sue Glover, Rona Munro and Ann Marie Di Mambro. Regarding Blood and Ice, Triesman writes:
Blood and Ice, which is about Mary Shelley, the creation of Frankenstein, the relationships between the Shelleys and Byron, explores the psychosexual roots of creativity and the contradictions inherent in an attempt to live liberated personal lives in an unchanged society in which women are still hostages to biology…...
section 4: CRITICAL TEXTS ON LIZ LOCHHEAD’s DRAMA
Crawford, Robert and Anne Varty (eds.), Liz Lochhead’s Voices, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1993. ISBN 0748604472.
This is an invaluable source containing several chapters that are highly relevant to a study of ‘Blood and Ice’. Notice particularly:
S.J. Boyd, ‘The Voice of Revelation: Liz Lochhead and Monsters’;
Jan McDonald and Jennifer Harvie, ‘ “Putting new Twists to old Stories”: Feminism and Lochhead’s Drama’;
Anne Varty, ‘Scripts and Performances’.
This is also an excellent checklist of Liz Lochhead’s poetry and drama, interviews she has given to newspapers and critics and recordings of her work.
Harvie, Jennifer B., Liz Lochhead’s Drama: [thesis] submitted for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Department of Theatre, Film & Television Studies, University of Glasgow, April 1996.
This thesis is in the Special Collections Department of Glasgow University Library, Level 12: Thesis Number 10494. A visitor’s pass can be obtained from Reception. It has a particularly good chapter on ‘Blood and Ice’, linking the play to the Romantic movement.
Chapters in Books
Christianson, Aileen, ‘Liz Lochhead’s Poetry and Drama: Forging Ironies’, in Aileen Christianson and Alison Lumsden (eds.), Contemporary Scottish Women Writers, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000, pp. 39-52. ISBN 0748609792.
A useful retrospective assessment of Lochhead’s poetic and dramatic output over almost thirty years, this chapter delineates clearly the themes common to her major plays, ‘sisterhood, class and blood…….community and difference between women: the sisterhood (true and false) between women, blood, menstrual cycles, birth and bloodsucking and the resistance and succumbing to victimhood.’
Nicolson, Colin, ‘Knucklebones of Irony’ in Poem, Purpose and Place, Edinburgh: Polygon, 1992, pp. 203-223. ISBN 0748661387m.
This essay, which includes an interview with Liz Lochhead, is largely concerned with her poetry, but its contents are relevant to a study of Blood and Ice because they include comments on her engagement with feminist thinking, her fascination with the ‘monstrous’ and her practice, also evident in her plays, of adapting or re-using myths and legends.
Kabitoglou, E. Douka, ‘Mary Shelley, Liz Lochhead, and the Monster’. Betty T. Bennett and Stuart Curran (eds.), Mary Shelley and her Times, Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins University Press, 2000, pp. 214-232. ISBN 0801863341.
Principally a comparison between the 1985 version of the play and its 1988 revision, this chapter leans heavily on feminist theorists, such as Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigaray and Jessica Benjamin. It is useful, however, in relating Lochhead’s poetry, particularly ‘Dreaming Frankenstein’, to Blood and Ice, and in demonstrating the dramatist’s final thoughts on a play that has gone through a great deal of reworking.
Scullion, Adrienne, ‘Liz Lochhead’, K. A. Berney (ed.), Contemporary Women Dramatists, London, Detroit and Washington: St James Press, 1994, pp. 147-151. ISBN 1 55862 212 8.
A brief biographical and bibliographical outline introduces an essay which highlights Lochhead’s fascination with women and monsters, ‘uncovering society’s fears of the unheimlich of the feminine’. Of Blood and Ice, which she describes as ‘a memory play’, Scullion writes:
The nature and value of creativity is also examined by presenting alternative visions of Mary Shelley as mother and author… Blood and Ice shows that society demands a heavy price from the woman who steps outside the framework of the family and wants to be more than a nurse to another’s imagination. Wilson, Rebecca E., ‘Interview with Liz Lochead’, Sleeping with Monsters: Conversations with Scottish and Irish Women Poets, Edinburgh: Polygon Books, 1990, pp. 14-17. ISBN 0748660275m.
The interview focuses on ‘Dreaming Frankenstein’ and ‘The Bride’, but the concept of the ‘monstrous’ is investigated, a concept highly relevant to Blood and Ice.
SECTION 5: THEORETICAL TEXTS ON ROMANTICISM AND FEMINISM
Feminism and Theatre
While there is no need to devote a vast amount of time to trawling through the frequently complex and difficult field of feminist theory in general, it is important to see Liz Lochhead’s work in the context of contemporary feminist theatre. The books listed below are fairly accessible and should provide a useful background to a study of Blood and Ice.
Aston, Elaine, An Introduction to Feminism and Theatre, London: Routledge, 1995. ISBN 0415087694 Aston, Elaine, Feminist Theatre Practice: a Handbook, London: Routledge, 1999. ISBN 0415139252v Case, Sue-Ellen, Feminism and Theatre, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1998. ISBN 0333390008 Case, Sue-Ellen, Reforming Feminism: feminist critical theory and theatre, Baltimore, London: John Hopkins University Press, 1990. ISBN 0801839688 Goodman, Elizabeth (ed.) with Jane de Gay, The Routledge Reader in Gender and Performance, London and New York: Routledge, 1998. ISBN 0415174732. Keyssar, Helene (ed.), Feminist Theatre and Theory, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1996. ISBN 0333615514
Butler, Marilyn, Romantics, Rebels and Reactionaries: English Literature and its Background, 1760-1830, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981. ISBN 0192891324 Curran, Stuart, The Cambridge Companion to British Romanticism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993. ISBN 0521333555 Furst, Lilian R., Romanticism, London: Methuen, 1969. The Critical Idiom Series. ISBN 0416839207 Mellor, Anne K., Romanticism and Feminism, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988. ISBN 0253 204623
SECTION 6: BIOGRAPHIES, LETTERS AND LITERARY WORKS BY ‘THE SHELLEY CIRCLE’
When directing or acting in a play which features ‘real’ characters, it is always debatable whether to research the historical person him/herself or to base one’s interpretation or performance on the fictional text created by the dramatist.
In the case of Mary Shelley and her circle, however, the historical characters are so colourful and ‘larger than life’, so to speak, that some study of their personalities is a temptation too exciting to resist. Further, it is extremely interesting to examine how Lochhead uses literary and historical sources in creating her dramatis personae. I have given only a few examples (I hope the most accessible) of the plethora of biographical and literary works that exist on the Shelley/Byron circle.
Mary Wollestonecraft Shelley
Hill-Miller, Katherine C., ‘My Hideous Progeny’: Mary Shelley, William Godwin and the Father-Daughter Relationship, Newark: University of Delaware Press, London: Associated Universities Press, 1995. ISBN 0874135354.
This book explores the difficult relationship between Mary Shelley and her celebrated father, the philosopher and political theorist, William Godwin. Despite their estrangement after Mary’s elopement, she dedicated her first novel to him and named her son, William, after him. Lochhead explores this complex link between paternity and creativity in Blood and Ice.
Mellor, Anne K., Mary Shelley: her Life, her Fictions and her Monsters, New York and London: Routledge, 1988. ISBN 0416017614. This standard work gives the background to the Shelley’s sojourn in Switzerland and in Italy. There is useful material on Mary’s relationship with Claire Clairmont, and a critical chapter on Frankenstein. The book is illustrated with portraits of Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Seymour, Miranda, Mary Shelley, London: John Murray, 2000. ISBN 01719557119.
The most recent biography, comprehensive and very well illustrated.
Spark, Muriel, Mary Shelley, London: Constable, 1988.
A clear and accessible account that stresses the importance of Mary’s distinguished parentage on both herself and her husband. Spark puts forward the idea that both the Shelleys were trying to ‘live out’ her parents’ philosophy, a point that Lochhead makes in Blood and Ice, principally through Byron’s comments on their lifestyle.
Letters and Journals
Bennett, Betty T. (ed.), Selected Letters of Mary Wollestonecraft Shelley, Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins University Press, 1995.
Included in the selection are letters from Mary Shelley to many of the people who appear or who are mentioned in Blood and Ice, for example, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Maria Gisborne and Lord Byron.
Jones, Frederick L. (ed.), Mary Shelley’s Journals, Norman: University of Oklahoma Press , 1947.
This includes some sketches and photographs, lists of books read by both the Shelleys, details of everyday work and leisure, and a particularly moving account by Mary of her husband’s death and its effect on her.
Shelley, Mary, Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, The 1818 Text, London: Pickering and Chatto, 1993. ISBN 18519660511.
This edition is highly recommended as it has an excellent introduction by Marilyn Butler, a doyenne of Romantic criticism.
Percy Bysshe Shelley and George Gordon, Lord Byron
I have not listed any individual biographies here, but have put forward such books as deal specifically with the time in the lives of the two men that coincides with the action of Blood and Ice, and which describe and comment upon their interrelationships with each other, with Mary Shelley and other members of the ‘Shelley Circle’.
Brailsford, H. N., Shelley, Godwin and their Circle, Hamden, Connecticut: Archon Books, 1969
Brewer, William D., The Shelley-Byron Conversations, Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1994. ISBN 083013003.
Buxton, John, Byron, Shelley: the history of a friendship, New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1968
Cline, C. L., Byron Shelley and their Pisa Circle, London, John Murray, 1952
Quennell, Peter, Byron in Italy, London: Collins, 1941
Small, Christopher, ‘Ariel like a harpy’. Shelley, Mary and Frankenstein, London: Victor Gollancz, 1972
Although this book modestly claims that it is ‘not a work of scholarship’, it is well-researched and readable and, particularly in Chapter 2, ‘The birth of the story’ and in Chapter 5, ‘Shelley and Frankenstein’, provides a valuable context for events in Blood and Ice.
Trelawney, Edward, Recollections of the last Days of Shelley and Byron. Introduced by David Crane, London: Robinson, 2000. ISBN 1841191744.
An ‘eye witness’ account.
Shelley had a vast output of poetry of various kinds. For the purposes of this study, apart from the obvious ones such as Ode to the West Wind (1820), To a Skylark (1820) and Adonais (1821), his elegy on fellow poet, John Keats, it will be interesting to look at the poems which he wrote to Mary, to William Godwin, to his infant son, William, and to Lord Byron. His lyrical drama, Prometheus Unbound (1820) is also significant, as it links up with Frankenstein, but it is rather weighty. The most interesting edition of Shelley’s Poetical Works is the Second Edition, published in 1839. This contains Mary Shelley’s Preface and notes by her on many of the poems. It has been reprinted many times: the most recent edition was published in paperback by Oxford University Press in 1988.
George Gordon, Lord Byron, was like Shelley, a prolific poet. His work covers the supernatural e.g. The Giaour, the satirical e.g. The Vision of Judgement and Don Juan and the lyrical. The Complete Poetical Works have been edited by Jerome J. McGann, published by Oxford University Press (1980). Less daunting is A Choice of Byron’s Verse, selected with an introduction by Douglas Dunn, London: Faber, 1974.
Note: A play which treats the events of Blood and Ice, more from Shelley’s point of view than from Mary’s, is Anne Jellicoe’s Shelley: or, the Idealist, London: Faber, 1969.
SECTION 7: VISUAL ARTS
Designers, and perhaps directors and actors, may find it useful to look at the work of some artists who had particular relevance for the Romantic period. The volume below have been chosen for their illustrations of such painters as Blake, Flaxman, Fuseli, Goya and Piranesi.
Bindman, David, Blake as an Artist, Oxford: Phaidon Press, 1977
Penny Nicholas, Piranesi, London: Bloomsbury Books, 1988. ISBN 1870630505
Powell, Nicholas, Fuseli: the Nightmare, New York: Viking Press, 1972
Symons, Sarah, Flaxman and Europe, New York: Garland Publishing, 1984. ISBN 08240597875 You can also access paintings by these artists in the National Gallery in London, by searching the following website – www.nationalgallery.org.uk, and in the Louvre in Paris on – www.smartweb.fr/louvre.
section 8: filmography
Frankenstein (1931), Universal, directed by James Whale. (Boris Karloff as the Monster).
The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Universal, directed by James Whale. (Elsa Lanchester as Mary Shelley and the Monster’s Mate).
Gothic (1986), Virgin Visions, directed by Ken Russell. Described facetiously by critics as a ‘thinking man’s Nightmare on Elm Street’ and ‘Monty Python’s Life of Brian’ – a good treat for a Friday afternoon!