English writer Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Gothic horror novel Frankenstein, considered to be one of the first works of science fiction, tells of a scientist who creates a sentient being in a morality-pushing experiment. After many years of requests we are thrilled to *finally* announce that this classic work is now part of our Embellished Manuscripts Collection!
When we began working to adapt this handwritten draft for our collection, our Graphics team was inspired by the dark and melancholic atmosphere of the novel. They chose a red and black colour scheme to symbolize the pain and suffering portrayed in the book. The illustration on the back cover, originally created for the first edition of the book, displays the desperation, fear and profound desire for belonging that Frankenstein’s monster feels.
The intricate story and depth of understanding of the human condition portrayed in Mary Shelley’s novel is particularly inspiring considering that she wrote it at only 18 years of age. Frankenstein came to life during an 1816 trip that Shelley undertook with fellow Romantic era writers. The group travelled along the Rhine, stopping near Frankenstein Castle where an alchemist was said to have engaged in mysterious experiments two centuries before, and the group’s conversations were dominated by topics such galvanism and the occult. When Lord Byron suggested a competition to see who could write the best ghost story, Shelley drew upon these experiences, as well as her own feelings of grief and guilt over the loss of a child, to craft her story.
Frankenstein tackles universal questions such as “What is my purpose” and “Why am I here” – questions that always have, and always will, resonate with reading audiences. Today, Mary Shelley’s handwritten draft of Frankenstein is held at Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford.
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein is now available as an ultra and midi hardcover journal and a bookmark.