Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler

From the Publisher

The remarkable true story of Frankenstein’s origins and the curse on its creators.

On a dark and stormy night in 1816, on the shore of Lake Geneva in Switzerland, Lord Byron, famed English poet, challenged his friends to a contest–to write a ghost story. The assembled group included the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley; his lover (and future wife) Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin; Mary’s stepsister Claire Claremont; and Byron’s physician, John William Polidori. The famous result of that night was Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a work that appeared in print two years later and has retained its hold on the popular imagination for almost two centuries. Less well-known was Polidori’s work, the first vampire novel. It too would inspire a legend (and most directly Bram Stoker’s Dracula), as well as many nightmares. And the evening begat a curse, too: Within a few years of Frankenstein’s publication, nearly all of those involved met untimely deaths.

My Comments: This is the first non-fiction book I’ve read in quite a while. It wasn’t dry or bland like a textbook, but rather totally engaging. It went quite deep into Mary Shelley’s family background to give us more of an understanding about where she came from and why.

The publishers did lead the reader somewhat astray, making the story of the night Frankenstein was created sound like a ghost story in and of itself. And I don’t know what curse was begat that night, but the untimely deaths weren’t very mysterious. Very interesting, but hardly curse-worthy.

The more I learn about the real lives of wonderful authors of that time period, the more disappointed I am. Their lives weren’t full of morality and integrity as I hoped. Especially in the case of Percy Shelley, William Godwin, Lord Byron (who wasn’t really a surprise) and Mary Shelley. Godwin and Percy Shelley were Socialists and disavowed the practice of marriage, saying it put women in slavery. Instead, they led lives of over abundance and lack of values having affairs and babies out of wedlock, leaving these women shamed and with no means. They left creditors in their wake as they traveled endlessly to outrun their bills. But during that time, genius was born.

Mary’s stoic endurance of losing two very young children had a profound affect on her own young life. When Mary was on her own many years after Frankenstein was written, she finally found her happiness that so eluded her. And while this book focuses on Mary’s life, it also touches greatly on Lord Bryon and how he inspired her to write her most famous work, Frankenstein.

Keep It Or Pass It On? I borrowed it from the library.

2 Responses to “Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler”

  1. J. Kaye Says:

    I think I read about this on, but didn’t consider reading it. After your post, I’m going to reconsider. It sounds interesting!

  2. Emily Says:

    I don’t read a lot of non fiction books but this does look interesting. I may have to look into it. I’ll see if the local library has a copy of it hanging around 🙂

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