Mary Shelley Anonymously Publishes Frankenstein

Today on January 1, 1818, the young Mary Shelley anonymously publishes her iconic gothic novel, Frankenstein, in London, England.

Frankenstein, also known as The Modern Prometheus, is a horror novel written by Mary Shelley. Shelley was an English novelist, short story writer, essayist, biographer, and travel writer. She is undoubtedly best known for Frankenstein, which tells the story of a young experimental scientist named Victor Frankenstein who creates a grotesque creature. Shelley began writing her iconic novel when she was only 18 years old. The first edition was anonymously published in London less than two years later. Only 500 copies of the original version were produced and quickly sold out. Her name first appeared in the second edition, which debuted in France in 1823.

The idea of Frankenstein originated from a competition between her future husband, Percy Shelley, and two of their closest friends. They debated who could write the best horror story. According to Shelley, a few days later she had a dream about the story’s main plot and began writing the first edition. The story derives its name from a castle in Germany where she had traveled to as a teenager. It is also one of the earliest examples of science fiction. Some have even dubbed it as the first-ever sci-fi novel. The story stylistically fuses together elements of Gothic-fiction with Romanticism.

Frankenstein quickly became popular among the masses. However, Britain's literary elite were highly critical of Shelley's writing style throughout its initial release. The legendary story has since become a worldwide cultural icon and has helped pave the way for countless other scary novels, plays and films. Most people mistakenly refer to the creature as Frankenstein, which is incorrect. Shelley intentionally left the beast unnamed to create a lack of identity and sorrow for it. The word has since become synonymous with other scary entities, such as monsters, demons, wretches, and creatures.

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