Claire was a few months younger than Mary and was the daughter of Mary Jane Claremont who married Mary’s father, William Godwin. The girls grew up together from the age of three, but there was no natural bond.
Claire was volatile and dramatic, whereas Mary was calm and cutting. Claire was insecure about her heritage, because her father was unknown. Mary on the other hand had a lineage which came from great writers, and Claire was jealous that Mary was assumed to be the intellectual in the family.
Claire’s main talent was in music. She sang well, and played the piano, and throughout his life Shelley supported e development of her gifts.
She found she loved Shelley, too, though her emotion was muddled with envy of her sister for attracting such a fascinating man. She did not hesitate to undermine their relationship whenever possible.
Claire had one major liaison, with Lord Byron, which produced a child. Claire stalked Byron and though he succumbed briefly to her physical attraction, he soon came to dislike her intensely and Mary and Shelley had to act as intermediaries for the child’s welfare. It is hard not to see Claire’s choice of Byron as a lover as trying to upstage Mary, since he was a more famous poet and a peer.
She remained single from conviction, though not for want of offers of marriage. Being ruled by a man was not Claire’s style.
Solving the mystery of Claire Clairmont’s real father.
Just had a great conversation with Vicki Parslow Stafford who lives in Brisbane. She was recently researching her family and came across letters From Mary Jane Vial, who called herself Clairmont and was Claire’s mother.
Although it was known that Claire was probably illegitimate, and her mother told her her father was Swiss, these letters prove that her father was Sir John Lethbridge, a Somerset land owner.
Sir John acknowledged paternity, and there are wonderful letters between Mary Jane Godwin, as she became, and Sir John and his solicitor, showing Mrs. Godwin using all of her whiles to get more child support from him!