As previously explored, Mary Shelley is significantly known as the author of Frankenstein, however, to truly understand Shelley’s intelligence and the expression of her political views we must explore Shelley’s use of the novel after Frankenstein. Shelley’s writing from the late 1820’s onward was engaging with public debate.  Thomas Malthus’ An Essay on the Principle of Population Growth (1798) still remained to be influential during 1820’s resulting in an upsurge of apocalyptic fiction. Shelley’s dystopian novel The Last Man (1826)  can be addressed as a response to the ongoing debate surrounding Malthus’ work. Shelley opposes Malthus’ blame on the working classes for population growth and the consequences by turning attentions toward Government.
Lauren Cameron suggests that ‘in The Last Man Shelley presents a radical vision of the failure of all governments.' The novel is set within twenty-first century England after the abolishment of an over indulgent monarchy. Lord Protectorates have been democratically elected and the Parliament has been elected representatively, however, Parliament is ineffective and the Lord Protectorates cannot protect the dying population from a virus which leads to the protagonist believing himself to be the last man alive.  Shelley is reflecting on the history of English government, primarily changes occurring after the English Civil War, whilst also discussing the topical subject of representation within the voting franchise which would lead to The Great Reform Act of 1832. Shelley is not rejecting the idea of wider representation but is suggesting that no matter who has the right to vote if the aim of the government is not to provide for the well-being of the populace it will remain to be corrupt and ineffective. 
The novel was a form that allowed Shelley as a woman to express herself and to voice her own opinions through the world of fiction, during the 19th century, via the written word. Thus, in The Last Man Shelley represents a dystopia in a world radical to her own, allowing her to actively engage with ongoing social and political debates.  Shelley, like her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, shared the view that government should be enforced for the well-being of the populace, regardless of class, presenting a possible solution to public debates of the 19th century.
 L. Vargo, ‘Mary Shelley Studies: From “Author of Frankenstein” to “the Great Work of Life” ‘, Literary Compass, 3:3 (2006) p423
 T. Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population Growth, J. Johnson (London, 1798)
 L. Cameron, ‘Mary Shelley’s Malthusian Objections in The Last Man’, Nineteenth-Century Literature, 67:2 (2012) p180
 M. Shelley, The Last Man, Henry Colburn (London, 1826)
 L. Cameron, ‘Mary Shelley’s Malthusian Objections in The Last Man’. p182
 M. Shelley, The Last Man.
 L. Careron, ‘Mary Shelley’s Malthusian Objections in The Last Man’. p182
 L. Vargo, ‘Mary Shelley Studies: From “Author of Frankenstein” to “the Great Work of Life”‘. p423
Image 1: Cover from the original edition of The Last Man: M. Shelley, The Last Man, Henry Colburn (London, 1826).
Image 2: Cover from the Oxford World Classics edition of The Last Man: M. Shelley, The Last Man, Oxford University Press (Oxford, 1998)