200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

12 Sep 2018

Frankenstein, the story of a scientist who creates a human monster in his laboratory, has loomed large over the literary and pop-culture world since its publication in 1818. Written by Mary Shelley, this novel is many different genres stitched together to produce one remarkable creation – all at once it is science-fiction, a tragic romance, horror and a morality tale.

To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein, the Chifley Branch is showcasing their collection of works relating to Mary Shelley and her novel – biographies, criticisms, translations, adaptations, films – which show the depth and breadth of the influence of Frankenstein in modern academia, culture, and society.

Interesting items include a replica of Mary Shelley’s original hand written manuscript, an award winning translation of Frankenstein in Baghdad by France Meyer, ANU academic and a restored version of the original 1931 film of Frankenstein on DVD. There is also a range of other Gothic novels to borrow and read, so get ready to be spooked!

Come to the Chifley Library throughout September and October to check out the display and borrow a novel from our Gothic Book Stand.

And don’t miss the Frankenstein: Two Hundred Years of Monsters conference presented by the ANU School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics and the Humanities Research Centre, in conjunction with the National Film and Sound Archive on 12 – 15 September.

You can also check out of English Language & Literature subject guide, which outlines a selection of resources in our collection of Frankenstein-related materials, including various editions of the original text itself.

Interesting trivia about Frankenstein:

  • Mary Shelley was only 18 years old when she started writing Frankenstein, and it was first published when she was aged 20.
  • Frankenstein is considered to be the first ever work of science fiction, making Mary Shelley the creator of the entire genre.
  • Mary Shelley is also credited with writing the first post-apocalyptic novel The Last Man, which told a futuristic tale about the lone survivor of a worldwide plague.
  • Frankenstein was written as part of a ghost story competition between Mary Shelley, poets Lord Byron and Percy Shelley (Mary’s husband) and physician John Polidori. Mary won, while Polidori wrote The Vampyre which is believed to have influenced Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
  • Frankenstein was first published anonymously with a preface by Percy Shelley, and many assumed he wrote the book himself. At the time, writing wasn’t considered a woman’s profession – especially with a book such as Frankenstein! It wasn’t until 1822 with the publication of a second edition that Mary took credit for her work.
  • It is a common misconception that Frankenstein is the name of the monster, but it is in fact the name of the scientist – Doctor Victor Frankenstein. The monster is unnamed, but instead referred to as ‘creature’, ‘demon’ and ‘thing’.
  • A recent stage adaptation of Frankenstein starring Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch had the pair alternating the roles of Frankenstein and the monster each night. This highlighted the question – who is the real monster and who is the victim?
  • Frankenstein has inspired hundreds of films, including direct adaptations like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein starring Kenneth Branagh and Robert De Niro, loose adaptations such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show and parodies like Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie and Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein.
  • Even Thomas Edison made a 15-minute film of Frankenstein in 1910, one of the first horror films ever made.
  • Rumour has it that Frankenstein’s monster will soon be back on our screens as part of Dark Universe franchise – think the Marvel Universe for monsters.