Mary Shelley's handling of the Gothic ingredients of Valperga seems to suggest that most if not all of this kind of fiction tends to reinforce the power of patriarchy it claims to find so appalling. The historical novel format ought to have ensured commercial success; Shelley's interest and facility in historical research and biography confirmed it as a wise choice. The attribution of 'Modern Italian Romances' to Shelley prompts further speculation as to the extent of Shelley's awareness of Italian revolutionaries in exile in London during the 1830s. The boundary between what was the Shelleys' business and what was the world's business is thus destabilized by Valperga. It fictionalizes historical accounts, appropriates the past as the present, projects a critique of Italian political affairs onto an English scenario, and enrols the author's friends and neighbours in its cast list.