Last Saturday I decided to visit the Shelleys the National Portrait Gallery – for about a year we were never in town at the same time. Although it is my favourite wall in the museum, I do feel like the layout is rather odd. I am well aware that Byron is the real celebrity there, yet having his portrait between Percy and Mary doesn’t seem right.
My first thought was that LB and Percy should change places, but that’s because of my personal preference, which is perhaps how LB ended up there in the first place. I shared the picture above on my twitter page and made a small mention of these thoughts, which when Graham Henderson from The Real Percy Bysshe Shelley pointed out that the same thought had crossed his mind when he visited the Gallery earlier this year. Graham took it to Facebook, encouraging people to make this happening by contacting the NPG. The hashtag which is now being used is #MaryInTheMiddle.
Next year we celebrate Frankenstein’s 200th anniversary, so why not grant its author with a well deserved spot in the middle of that wall? After all, this is the work that made her famous, therefore it seems like a very appropriated time to make this change! Yes, Byron is better known and widely discussed, but perhaps this seemingly small gesture will put Mary under the spotlight that she deserves. I speak as someone who truly loves Lord Byron’s work, but also believes that Mary Shelley deserves more recognition for her genius.
If you agree with us, tweet @NPGLondon with #MaryInTheMiddle and voice your opinion on The Real Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poll.