National Frankenstein Friday, on the last Friday in October, recognizes author Mary Shelly, the novel Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, her characters, Dr. Frankenstein and the monster. Dating back to the 1800s, Frankenstein’s monster is one of the best-known horror characters of all time.
The novel by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797-1851) tells the story of a young scientist, Victor Frankenstein. According to some sources, the day is observed on August 30th in honor of Mary Shelley’s birthday.
- In 1818 the first edition of Frankenstein was published anonymously, the first 500 copies sold out. However, the public believed her husband, Percy Shelley, to be the author.
- Then in 1823, Mary Shelley published a new edition under her name.
- Another edition in 1831 included Shelley’s explanation about how the story came to be. This version is the one modern readers are the most familiar with today.
- The film world has created more than 60 movies or shorts on the theme of Frankenstein.
- Edison Studios produced the very first film version, Frankenstein, in 1910.
- Frankenstein has inspired more than 130 films, starting with the silent Frankenstein in 1910.
- While the novel has inspired dozens of film adaptations, it is 1931’s Frankenstein, directed by James Whale, that is responsible for perhaps the most abiding image of Frankenstein’s monster: a square-headed creature with heavy eyelids and bolts in his neck.
- 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.
- The novel resulted from a competition between Mary, her future husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron and the writer John Polidori to see who could write the best horror story.
- Along with fellow actors Lon Chaney, Bela Lugosi and Vincent Price, Boris Karloff is recognized as one of the true icons of horror cinema, and the actor most closely identified with the Frankenstein character.
- Frankenstein was considered the first science fiction novel. In penning her gothic novel, Shelley was writing the first major science fiction novel, as well as inventing the concept of the “mad scientist” and helping establish what would become horror fiction. The influence of the book in popular culture is so huge that the term “Frankenstein” has entered common speech to mean something unnatural and horrendous.