Mary Shelley play Conception is coming to The Phoenix Theatre and Arts Centre in Bordon on May 9 at 7.30pm.

It’s October 1840. Gothic writer Mary Shelley returns to Lake Geneva, the birthplace of her most famous novel 20 years previously.

Haunted by the ghosts of her husband, Percy Shelley, Byron and others from that infamous “year without a summer”, she embarks on a profound voyage of self-discovery resulting in a brutal confrontation with the very creation that made her name.

Unlike Frankenstein, the life of Mary Shelley is not well known - and yet reads like the plot of one of her tragic Gothic novels. Suffering three infant deaths and one miscarriage that almost killed her, she then lost the love of her life, Percy, drowned in a yachting accident, in her early 20s.

Deserted by friends and with little money to support her surviving son, she was known as the widow of Percy and some even questioned whether he was the author of Frankenstein.

Yet this single-mother went on to write eight more novels, more than 50 short stories and essays and brought together her husband’s writings in a complete works edition that made Percy’s name.

Writer and star Deborah Clair said: “In Mary Shelley’s day society dictated the need for women to be wives. If not, the other paths were decidedly perilous: spinster, divorced, widow, harlot, corpse.

“Mary was completely off-grid with her choices – elopement, travel, children out of wedlock, a thinker and writer. Her life straddled two eras – Romantic and Victorian – and the latter really didn’t know what to do with her!”

For tickets, priced £15 (£14 concessions), call 01420 472664.