You’ve heard of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. You’ve probably seen one of the early movies based on the novel. But have you ever read the novel? Isn’t it about time?
First, a brief history, courtesy of Ron Breznay’s Masters of Horror:
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was born on August 30, 1797, in London, England. Her parents were William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. Mary’s father was a novelist and a social theorist, whose 1793 book Enquiry Concerning Political Justice propelled him to fame. Her mother was a pioneer in women’s liberation and wrote the book Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792).
In December 1816, Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelley married. Together they had four children, from 1815 to 1819, three of whom died in childhood (after her first baby died in 1815, Mary had a dream about a baby being brought back to life). Many critics have pointed out the connection between all these deaths and the themes of creation and death in Frankenstein.
On April 17, 1817, Mary finished writing Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus (in Greek mythology, Prometheus was a cousin of Zeus, who is said to have fashioned the first man from clay, after which the goddess Athena breathed life into the figure). Despite Percy’s efforts, the book did not easily find a publisher. A not-quite-reputable house, Lackington and Hughes, published the book anonymously on March 11, 1818.
Ready to give it a read?
Or perhaps a listen?
Here are two great online resources where you can access this classic:
The first is an audio edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, courtesy of LibriVox. Here’s where you can access the files and begin listening immediately: Frankenstein Audio. A little further down the page, you can also download the files to listen to at a more convenient time.
The second resource is a straightforward, chapter-by-chapter online delivery of Frankenstein. You can read the novel for free, in its entirety here: Frankenstein
Horror has a long, rich history.