Before working on , Shelley had written three volumes in , part of the Reverend Dionysius Lardner's , and after completing her last novel she devoted her energies to nonfiction and editing her husband's works. Her last book, an account of summer tours on the Continent with her son and his college friends, was published in 1844. By then she was in ill health, and in 1848 she began to suffer what were apparently the first symptoms of the brain tumor that eventually killed her. The disease was not diagnosed until December 1850 when she began to experience numbness in her right leg and impaired speech. Within a little more than a month she was almost completely paralyzed, and she died in London on 1 February 1851, having asked to be buried with her mother and father. Her son and daughter-in-law, Jane, Lady Shelley, had the bodies of her parents exhumed and buried them with her in the churchyard of St. Peter's, Bournemouth. A memorial sculpture to Mary and was commissioned by Percy Florence and Jane Shelley and installed at nearby Christchurch Priory.


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