So today is our birthday. We are really honoured to share the same birth day as Romantic & Gothic writer Mary Shelley.
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (née Godwin; 30 August 1797 – 1 February 1851) was an English novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (1818). She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley. Her father was the political philosopher William Godwin, and her mother was the philosopher and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.
After Wollstonecraft's death less than a month after her daughter Mary was born, Mary was raised by Godwin, who was able to provide his daughter with a rich, if informal, education, encouraging her to adhere to his own liberal political theories. When Mary was four, her father married a neighbour, with whom, as her stepmother, Mary came to have a troubled relationship.
In 1814, Mary began a romance with one of her father's political followers, the then married Percy Bysshe Shelley. Together with Mary's stepsister Claire Clairmont, Mary and Shelley left for France and traveled through Europe. Upon their return to England, Mary was pregnant with Percy's child. Over the next two years, she and Percy faced ostracism, constant debt, and the death of their prematurely born daughter. They married in late 1816, after the suicide of Percy Shelley's first wife, Harriet.
In 1816, the couple famously spent a summer with Lord Byron, John William Polidori, and Claire Clairmont near Geneva, Switzerland, where Mary conceived the idea for her novel Frankenstein. The Shelleys left Britain in 1818 for Italy, where their second and third children died before Mary Shelley gave birth to her last and only surviving child, Percy Florence Shelley. In 1822, her husband drowned when his sailing boat sank during a storm near Viareggio. A year later, Mary Shelley returned to England and from then on devoted herself to the upbringing of her son and a career as a professional author. The last decade of her life was dogged by illness, probably caused by the brain tumour that was to kill her at the age of 53.
|Mary Shelley's portrait by Richard Rothwell, shown at the Royal Academy in 1840, accompanied by lines from Percy Shelley's poem The Revolt of Islam calling her a "child of love and light".|
Until the 1970s, Mary Shelley was known mainly for her efforts to publish her husband's works and for her novel Frankenstein, which remains widely read and has inspired many theatrical and film adaptations. Recent scholarship has yielded a more comprehensive view of Mary Shelley’s achievements. Scholars have shown increasing interest in her literary output, particularly in her novels, which include the historical novels Valperga (1823) and Perkin Warbeck (1830), the apocalyptic novel The Last Man (1826), and her final two novels, Lodore (1835) and Falkner (1837). Studies of her lesser-known works, such as the travel book Rambles in Germany and Italy (1844) and the biographical articles for Dionysius Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopaedia (1829–46), support the growing view that Mary Shelley remained a political radical throughout her life. Mary Shelley's works often argue that cooperation and sympathy, particularly as practised by women in the family, were the ways to reform civil society. This view was a direct challenge to the individualistic Romantic ethos promoted by Percy Shelley and the Enlightenment political theories articulated by her father, William Godwin.
Mary Shelley has been portrayed in numerous films & TV series, the most prominent are 'Bride of Frankenstein' (1935, played by Elsa Lanchester), 'Shelley' (1972, played by Jenny Agutter), 'Gothic' (1986, played by Natasha Richardson), 'Haunted Summer' (1988, played by Alice Krige), 'Rowing with the Wind' aka 'Remando al Viento' (1988, played by Lizzy McInnerny), 'Byron' (2003, played by Sally Hawkins), 'Mary Shelley' (2004, played by Sarah Allen), 'The Frankenstein Chronicles' (2015, played by Anna Maxwell Martin) and 'A Storm in the Stars' (2016 or 2017, played by Elle Fanning).
|Douglas Walton as Percy Bysshe Shelley, Elsa Lanchester as Mary Shelley and Gavin Gordon as Lord Byron in 'Bride of Frankenstein', 1935.|
|Miranda Richardson as Mary Shelley and Gabriel Byrne as Lord Byron in 'Gothic', 1986.|
|Eric Stoltz as Percy B. Shelley, Alice Krige as Mary Shelley, Laura Dern as Claire Clairmont and Phillip Anglim as Lord Byron in 'Haunted Summer', 1988.|
|Lizzy McInerny as Mary Shelley in the 'Remando al Viento' film (1988).|
|Sally Hawkins as Mary Shelley in 'Byron', 2003.|
|Sarah Allen as Mary in 2004's 'Mary Shelley'.|
|Anna Maxwell Martin as Mary Shelley in the TV series 'The Frankenstein Chronicles' (2015). With her, the fictional characters John Marlott (Sean Bean) and Lord Daniel Hervey (Ed Stoopard).|
|Elle Fanning as Mary Shelley in the upcoming 'A Storm in the Stars'.|
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is a novel written by Mary Shelley that tells the story of a young science student Victor Frankenstein, who creates a grotesque but sentient creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment. Shelley started writing the story when she was 18, and the first edition of the novel was published anonymously in London in 1818, when she was 20. Shelley's name first appeared on the second edition, published in France in 1823.
Shelley traveled through Europe in 1814, journeying along the River Rhine in Germany with a stop in Gernsheim which is just 17 km (10 mi) away from Frankenstein Castle, where, two centuries before, an alchemist was engaged in experiments. Later, she traveled in the region of Geneva (Switzerland)—where much of the story takes place—and the topic of galvanism and other similar occult ideas were themes of conversation among her companions, particularly her lover and future husband, Percy Shelley. Mary, Percy, Lord Byron and John Polidori decided to have a competition to see who could write the best horror story. After thinking for days, Shelley dreamt about a scientist who created life and was horrified by what he had made; her dream later evolved into the novel's story.
|Illustration by Theodor von Holst from the frontispiece of the 1831 edition.|
Frankenstein is infused with elements of the Gothic novel and the Romantic movement. At the same time, it is an early example of science fiction. Frankenstein should be considered the first true science fiction story because, in contrast to previous stories with fantastical elements resembling those of later science fiction, the central character "makes a deliberate decision" and "turns to modern experiments in the laboratory" to achieve fantastic results, according to science fiction writer Brian Aldis. It has had a considerable influence in literature and popular culture and spawned a complete genre of horror stories, films and plays.
Since the novel's publication, the name "Frankenstein" has often been used to refer to the monster itself. This usage is sometimes considered erroneous, but usage commentators regard it as well-established and acceptable. In the novel, the monster is identified by words such as "wretch", "creature", "monster", "demon", and "it". Speaking to Victor Frankenstein, the wretch refers to himself as "the Adam of your labours", and elsewhere as someone who "would have" been "your Adam", but is instead "your fallen angel."
Recently we watched and enjoyed the 2015 film 'Victor Frankenstein', starring James McAvoy, Daniel Radcliffe, Jessica Brown Findlay, Andrew Scott and Freddie Fox, among others. It's an alternative version, a reboot (in serial fiction, to reboot means to discard all continuity in an established series in order to recreate its characters, timeline and backstory from the beginning. Reboots remove any non-essential elements associated with a franchise by starting the franchise's continuity over and distilling it down to the core elements and concepts. For consumers, reboots allow easier entry for newcomers unfamiliar with earlier titles in a series. With reboots, filmmakers revamp and reinvigorate a film series in order to attract new fans and stimulate revenue. Reboots also allow directors and producers to cast a new set of younger actors for the familiar roles of a film series in order to attract a younger audience).
Told from Igor's perspective, it shows the troubled young assistant's dark origins and his redemptive friendship with the young medical student, Victor Frankenstein. Through Igor's eyes, the audience witnesses the emergence of Frankenstein as the man from the legend we know today. Eventually, their experiments get them into trouble with the authorities, and Dr. Frankenstein and Igor become fugitives as they complete their goals to use science as a way to create life from death.
|Art by Scott Wollston.|
*Contains Spoilers* In London, the ambitious medical student Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy) attends a circus performance, where he helps save an injured aerialist, Lorelei (Jessica Brown Findlay), by aid of a nameless hunchback (Daniel Radcliffe) enslaved by the circus' ringleader, and who harbors feelings for the girl. Impressed by the hunchback's vast knowledge of human anatomy, acquired from stolen books, Victor rescues him, drains the cyst on his back that causes his physical abnormality and develops a harness to improve his posture, and then names him "Igor" after a recently deceased roommate. The two then become partners in Victor's ongoing experiments to create life through artificial means, incurring the wrath of religious police inspector Roderick Turpin (Andrew Scott), who views their experiments as sinful.
After Igor suggests they use electricity to animate their creations, Victor procures parts from dead animals and creates a monstrous chimpanzee-esque creature nicknamed "Gordon". Meanwhile, Igor reunites with Lorelei, now masquerading as the mistress of the closeted homosexual Baron Bomine (Robin Pearce), and the two develop an affair, upsetting Victor, who views Lorelei as a distraction. Igor invites Lorelei to a demonstration on their experiment, which goes awry when Gordon escapes and wreaks havoc through the university before being killed by Victor and Igor. Lorelei is horrified by Victor's experiments and urges Igor to dissuade him from pursuing the matter further, but Igor is reluctant to do so upon learning that Victor is driven by the need to atone for his indirect role in the death of his older brother, Henry, for which Victor's domineering father, Mr. Frankenstein (Charles Dance), blames Victor.
Victor is expelled from college for his unorthodox methods, and later approached by his wealthy, arrogant classmate Finnegan (Freddie Fox), who wants him to create an artificial humanoid creature. Victor and Igor outline a behemoth being known as "Prometheus", but Igor's deepening relationship with Lorelei soon causes a rift between them. Shortly afterwards, Turpin and his men raid Victor's laboratory, hellbent on destroying his inventions, and during an altercation with Victor, Turpin loses both a hand and one of his eyes, while Victor and Igor are extracted by Finnegan's men and taken to his family's estate in Scotland, where Finnegan provides them with the necessary funds to build Prometheus. Igor is mistrustful of Finnegan and leaves after having a falling out with Victor. Finnegan later kidnaps and binds him, revealing his plans to kill Victor once Prometheus is complete and weaponize his creation. Igor is then thrown into the River Thames to drown, but manages to escape and reunites with Lorelei, who nurses him back to health.
Once recovered, Igor returns to Finnegan's estate with Lorelei in tow in order to rescue Victor, and finds Victor on the verge of using lightning to animate Prometheus. He ignores Igor's pleas not to and activates the machine. Due to a power surge the machinery overloads however, killing Finnegan. After the ensuing chaos Turpin unexpectedly arrives (after being fired by his superior for not having a search warrant), blaming and threatening Victor for his creation, upon which both realise the experiment was a success and Prometheus (Spencer Wilding) came to life. Victor shares a brief moment with Prometheus but is interrupted when Turpin opens fire on Prometheus, who eventually kills Turpin. Realising his efforts were misguided Victor joins forces with Igor to kill Prometheus by stabbing its two hearts.
After regaining consciousness the next morning, Igor reunites with Lorelei, who hands him a letter written to him by Victor, in which Victor apologizes for all the suffering he caused and recognizes Igor was his "greatest creation". Victor retreats to the Scottish countryside in search of new discoveries.