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Sunday, 21 June 2009

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Jane Austen’s work has recently been given a highly dubious zombie makeover. But it was a young lady still in her teens, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797-1853), who supercharged the Gothic novel to create a new literary genre:
I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs… the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.’ (Frankenstein, 1818.)
During the autumn of 1816, Mary worked on ‘Frankenstein’ while staying in lodgings near Bath Abbey (pictured left) with Shelley and Claire Clairmont. Mary and Shelley married later that year.
Mary's Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus was published anonymously in 1818. The story of hapless experimenter Frankenstein, his Creature’s sufferings - and fearful revenge - caused a sensation. The book struck a chord with the reading public, and horror stories are still big business in the film and print media. You can find out more about Mary Shelley and the birth of her ‘hideous progeny’ in the latest issue of Jane Austen's Regency World.

Image: West front of Bath Abbey, Penny Magazine, 13 July 1833. Author’s collection.

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