Conceived as part of a literary game among friends in 1816, Mary Shelley's “Frankenstein” is today regarded as a classic piece of 19th century literature. The story begins with the journey of an adventurer, Robert Walton, who saves the life of a man at the North Pole. That man, Victor Frankenstein, tells Walton about his experiments with the creation of life and how he ended up at the North Pole. Through this simple plot device, Shelley was able to deal with serious real-world issues like acceptance, tolerance, and understanding, as well as the universal human need for companionship and love. The novel, of course, inspired a host of films, from the 1931 classic starring Boris Karloff to “Andy Warhol's Frankenstein, ” and more recently, a series of novels by Dean Koontz. This version, though slightly abridged, retains much of the original dialogue and remains true to Shelley's brilliant vision.
Mary Shelley was born Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin on August 30, 1797 in London, the daughter of William Godwin—a radical philosopher and novelist, and Mary Wollstonecraft—a renowned feminist and the author of Vindication of the Rights of Woman. She eloped to France with Shelley in 1814, although they were not married until 1816, after the suicide of his first wife. She began work on Frankenstein in 1816 in Switzerland, while they were staying with Lord Byron, and it was published in 1818 to immediate acclaim. She died in London in 1851.