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102 MIN READ TIME

Mary Shelley: Frankenstein’s Mother

MAKING A MONSTER Eighteen-year-old Shelley was determined to prove to polite society that refined young ladies could also conjure twisted tales

“I saw – with shut eyes, but acute mental vision – I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion.”

This, in Mary Shelley’s own words, is how the idea of Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus first came to her, her imagination “possessed” by the phantasm. Though historians question whether or not she really was struck, as if by lightning, with this vision, it certainly would be apt if she had been. In the summer of 1816, 18-year-old Mary penned her magnum opus while trapped in a storm-ravaged pocket of the Swiss Alps. As thunder crackled around her, she created one of the most original and enduring horror stories of all time. A genius piece of writing, Frankenstein pulled together all the most prominent scientific questions of Mary’s time, as well as overarching philosophical themes that endure today. But more than that, she also wove in personal woes that had haunted her – and would continue to haunt her – her whole life long.

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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of BBC History Revealed Magazine - November 2017
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About BBC History Revealed Magazine

"With the release of Victoria and Abdul, starring Judi Dench, we uncover the story behind Queen Victoria's love affair with India. From the dawn of the British Empire to Indian Independence, follow the Crown's tumultuous rule of the subcontinent. Also inside, get a blow-by-blow of the first mass tank battle of World War I, and find out how these machines have developed over the last 100 years. You can also meet the real Prince of Persia, Xerxes, and find out what happened after his infamous fight against 300 Spartans."

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