The origin of the novel Frankenstein
is the stuff of legend. Mary Shelley, only eighteen years old and married to the atheist Percy Bysshe Shelley, formulated a story of a man and his evil creation for a parlor game between herself, her husband, and their friend, Lord Byron. As the horror story grew into a bigger and more complicated novel, Shelley sought the aid of her husband to help her edit and revise it for publication. In many ways, Frankenstein
was born out of a collaborative, creative process. Now, almost 200 years after the first publication of Frankenstein
in 1818, Peter Ackroyd is joining the party. Ackroyd's postmodern version allows the character, Victor Frankenstein, to meet the author, Shelley. This reinvention of a classic is faintly reminiscent of the moment in Shelley's Frankenstein
when the creature discovers Milton's Paradise Lost
Beyond the Book
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Mary Shelley was born Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin in London in 1797. As the daughter of the feminist philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft, author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
, and William Godwin, a political philosopher and an early anarchist proponent, Mary was born into a family that challenged social norms and encouraged innovative thinking. For much of her life she was haunted by the memory of her mother, who died soon after giving birth to her daughter. For Mary, her mother's death was a burden, and a source of blame and resentment by her father.
When Mary was sixteen years old she was...