1 June 2018 Susannah

‘Frankenstein’ is 200

Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's monster in the classic 1930s film edition.

Mary Shelley’s book Frankenstein turned 200 in January 2018, and Mary was just 20 years old when she wrote it.

It all came about because of a dark and stormy night in 1814. Mary, her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron and another friend, decided to have a competition to see who could write the best horror story. They all had a go, but only Mary’s has lasted and of course it has spawned a huge number of films, cartoons, plays, sequels, art, ballet, an interactive e-book and even comedies.

Title page of first edition of Frankenstein, Volume I.

Title page of first edition of Frankenstein, Volume I.

I am personally not all that fond of the novel, but what I do find fascinating is Mary Shelley’s life. She was the daughter of feminist author Mary Wollstonecraft, who died giving birth to Mary, and of author, bookseller and philosopher William Godwin. Mary eloped with one of the greatest poets who has ever trod this earth, had many pregnancies and babies (only one of whom survived to adulthood), had to cope with his liberal views on free love and then his drowning at age of 29, and went on to write many more novels, none of which ever sold as well as Frankenstein. If you want to know more about Mary Shelley, I can strongly recommend The Godwins and the Shelleys by William St Clair which is a fabulous read, and Miranda Seymour’s excellent biography Mary Shelley. And of course the superb biographer Richard Holmes has written Shelley: The Pursuit (my copy of that wonderful book is still full of sand because I spent so much of a NZ beach holiday unable to put it down!).

What do you think of the book Frankenstein? Do you have a favourite film, cartoon, play or sequel? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment.

  Susannah Fullerton: HAPPY BIRTHDAY – Mary Shelley
  Susannah Fullerton: About Mary Shelley

  Books by Mary Shelley, public domain

  Wikipedia: Frankenstein’s monster

  Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
   The Godwins and the Shelleys: A Biography of a Family by William St Clair
   Mary Shelley by Miranda Seymour
   Shelley: The Pursuit by Richard Holmes

I only recommend books I have read and know. Some of these links are my affiliate links. If you buy a book by clicking on one of these links I receive a small commission. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but does help cover the cost of producing my free newsletter.


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Featured image credit- Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s monster in the classic 1930s film edition. by Flickr: Insomnia Cured Here, https://www.flickr.com/photos/tom-margie/1538945988
Body image credit- Title page of first edition of Frankenstein, Volume I. By Author Mary Shelley; publisher Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor & Jones – Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32914384

Comments (2)

  1. Marisa

    Thanks, Susannah, for the list of books relating to Mary Shelley, whose life I want to know more about. Have you read “In Search of Mary Shelley”, by Fiona Simpson, and if so, what do you think of it? I’ve been waiting for it to come out and would value your opinion (if you have read t) before I buy it. Cheers!

    • Susannah Fullerton

      No, I have not read it but it does sound like a book to add to my list. I love ‘ in search of…’ Type of books about authors.

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