childrens' books, Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, women's writing, writing

How Mary Shelley made a monster… in her own words. Part 1.

To mark only TWO MONTHS until publication, I want to let Mary Shelley tell in her own words how she made a monster.  This is the story as she tells it in her introduction to the 1831 edition of Frankenstein. Since it’s a bit long, I’m going to divide it up into a few separate posts.

First, the setting and Mary’s desire to rise to the ghost-story challenge!

In the summer of 1816, we visited Switzerland and became the neighbors of Lord Byron… But it proved a wet, ungenial summer, and incessant rain often confined us for days to the house. Some volumes of ghost stories, translated from the German into French, fell into our hands. …

“We will each write a ghost story,”  said Lord Byron; and his proposition was acceded to. There were four of us … I busied myself to think of a story, – a story to rival those which had excited us to this task. One which would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature and awaken thrilling horror – one to make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart. If I did not accomplish these things, my ghost story would be unworthy of its name. I thought and pondered – vainly. I felt that blank incapability of invention which is the greatest misery of authorship, when dull Nothing replies to our anxious invocations. “Have you thought of a story?” I was asked each morning, and each morning I was forced to reply with a mortifying negative.

How did Mary change that Mortifying Negative? Tune in next time, when… The Monster is  Born!

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