Does The Ghost Of Mary Shelley’s Sister Haunt Swansea?


KELLY HAMBLY tells us the tragic tale of how the author of Frankenstein’s sister committed suicide in Wales

Swansea is synonymous with literature. Its famous son Dylan Thomas, being the most notable literary figure to emerge in the 20th century, still holds prominence over the city today.

But, did you know the city has links to one of the greatest Victorian horror writers of our time, Mary Shelley?

Tucked away in Wind Street, a street known for its bars and restaurants; lies a chilling story that could well have been a plot right out of one of her novels.

The former Mackworth Arms in Swansea before it was demolished
The former Mackworth Arms in Swansea before it was demolished

In 1816, what was once the Mackworth Arms, Fanny Imlay, the half-sister of Shelley committed suicide.

Her story is a tragic one. After losing her mother a few weeks after giving birth to Shelley, Fanny was brought up with her step father, William Godwin and her half-siblings.
Godwin was in serious debt, and at 18 years old, Imlay was sent to live in Wales.

Upon returning to London to help the man who brought her up as a daughter, their relationships, especially with her sisters and her father became rocky.

Whilst trying to amend her relationship with her sisters whom her father wanted nothing to do with, Imlay was faced with great difficulty. And as the pressure grew on the family with the surmounting debt, Imlay began to beg her sisters to help her escape. They refused.

This bore great weight on Imlay, who had also been suffering with depression. It is stated that she had been contemplating suicide for some time, due to the letters she had written, and in 1816, she ran away to Swansea where she stayed at an inn, the Mackworth Arms.

The night of her death she was reported to have instructed the chambermaid not to disturb her, and took a dose of laudanum. She was found dead the following day.

Mary Shelley and her father arrived the day after, and because suicide brought great shame on families back then, she was buried in an unmarked grave. Some say she is buried in the graveyard by the train station. Who knows?

The original building was demolished in the 1890s and what stands in its place now is a bar/restaurant.

Yet, it seems this has not made a difference to what had taken place there years previously. It has been reported that there is a presence of a young woman, who has also been heard moaning from the cellar.

Scratching and tapping noises have been heard at about 6am in the morning, and on the eve of her death on October 18th, staff reported that the noises were as loud as they had ever been.

Is this the ghost of Fanny Imlay still haunting, unable to rest?

KELLY HAMBLY is a Welsh author of Horror and Fantasy. Her recent novel is a YA Supernatural, published with Accent Press. She has also published four vampire novels which are available from Amazon


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