This piece is from New Yorker:

Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley began writing “Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus” when she was eighteen years old, two years after she’d become pregnant with her first child, a baby she did not name. “Nurse the baby, read,” she had written in her diary, day after day, until the eleventh day: “I awoke in the night to give it suck it appeared to be sleeping so quietly that I would not awake it,” and then, in the morning, “Find my baby dead.”

What does it mean "to give it suck it"? The sentence structure is strange to me.

  • Link to source please
    – James K
    Commented Sep 11, 2022 at 6:31
  • @JamesK it's in the post. click on 1 newyorker.com/magazine/2018/02/12/…
    – doubleE
    Commented Sep 11, 2022 at 6:32
  • Your quote was insufficient. This is not from the New Yorker, it is from Mary Shelly's diary. That changes the understanding. This was written 200 years ago.
    – James K
    Commented Sep 11, 2022 at 6:35

1 Answer 1


"suck" as a noun has an archaic meaning of "milk drawn from the breast"

So this just means "I awoke to give the baby milk"

Mary, writing in her personal diary, fails to "properly" punctuate and runs the next sentence "It appeared.." into the first. But remember she was 16 years old, was waking herself up in the middle of the night to feed a baby that had been born only 10 days before, so let's forgive her grammar error.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .