Old Favorites: Mary Shelley

We’re focusing on newer books, movies, and television shows for 2018, but that doesn’t mean we’re entirely ignoring old favorites! After all, what’s that saying–what’s old may just become new again (or something like that)?

August 30th marks the 221st birthday of English author Mary Shelley, and this year marks the 200th anniversary of her most famous book. She is best-known for her classic novel Frankenstein and her dysfunctional family life, but this daughter of two noted writers and wife of another is a fascinating literary and historical figure in her own right.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818)*


Of course, you can’t go wrong with Frankenstein. Most people unfamiliar with the original novel assume the book’s storyline follows the more famous film adaptations, but that barely scratches the surface. It’s a complex plot with complex characters and is all the more interesting for it.

*Ebook and audiobook also available on Libby.

Kenneth Oppel’s The Dark Endeavor (2011)

Dark Endeavours

Frankenstein has captivated many a writer, so if you’re looking for a twist on the story, consider this YA adaptation.  It stays fairly close to the mythology of the original novel but presents an original story starring a teenage Dr. Frankenstein.

Dean Koontz’s Prodigal Son (2005)**

Dean Koontz

Modern horror writer Dean Koontz has his own spin on Shelley’s story with his Frankenstein series. Set in modern New Orleans, the main characters are cops who are pulled into an investigation that leads them to Dr. Frankenstein and his creation.

**Ebook and audiobook also available on Libby.

Charlotte Gordon’s Romantic Outlaws (2015)

Romanic Outlaws

A dual biography, this book explores the lives of both Shelley and the mother she never knew, Mary Wollstonecraft. Both lived unconventional lives and were intellectuals at a time when such interests for women were strongly discouraged. Both also had tumultuous personal lives worthy of a novel.

Roseanne Montillo’s The Lady and Her Monsters (2013)

The Lady and her Monsters

If you’re more interested in the story behind the story, this book delves into the historical context of the work, as well as Mary Shelley’s own life. The historical information covered is, predictably, gruesome, focusing on dissections and 19th century fixations on reviving the dead with science.

Janet Todd’s Death and the Maidens

Death and the Maidens

Poor Fanny Wollstonecraft is often treated like an unpleasant footnote in her more famous half-sister’s story. Overshadowed in her childhood home and thrown over by Percy Shelley for Mary, Fanny still played a role within her sister’s dysfunctional social circle before meeting a tragic end.

Young Frankenstein (1974)

Young Frankenstein

So, there are a lot of film adaptations of Frankenstein, some better than others, though none of them particularly very faithful to the original story. My favorite, however, will always be Mel Brooks’ madcap spoof Young Frankenstein, starring comedy legends Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Peter Boyle, and Madeline Kahn, all in top form.

What are your thoughts on Frankenstein? What’s your favorite version of the story? What’s your favorite classic horror novel? Tell us in the comments! Please follow this link to our online library catalog for more information on any of the above items.


Author: berryvillelibrary

"Our library, our future"

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