CLICK HERE IF VIDEO DOES NOT LOAD FRANKENSTEIN: the scientist who created life!Was the famed character conceived solely in the mind of novelist Mary Shelley, or was Frankenstein based in reality, as some argue?
“I conceive it to be the duty of every rational creature to attend to its offspring,” Wollstonecraft wrote in “Thoughts on the Education of Daughters,” in 1787, ten years before giving birth to the author of “Frankenstein.” As Charlotte Gordon notes in her dual biography “Romantic Outlaws,” Wollstonecraft first met her fellow political radical William Godwin in 1791, at a London dinner party hosted by the publisher of Thomas Paine’s “Rights of Man.” Wollstonecraft and Godwin were “mutually displeased with each other,” Godwin later wrote; they were the smartest people in the room, and they couldn’t help arguing all evening.
Wollstonecraft’s “Vindication of the Rights of Woman” appeared in 1792, and, the next year, Godwin published “Political Justice.” In 1793, during an affair with the American speculator and diplomat Gilbert Imlay, Wollstonecraft became pregnant.
But, when his wife left him, a year into their marriage, Byron was forced never to see his wife or daughter again, lest his wife reveal the scandal of his affair with Leigh.
(Ada was about the age Mary Godwin’s first baby would have been, had she lived. One evening, he announced, “We will each write a ghost story.” Godwin began the story that would become “Frankenstein.” Byron later wrote, “Methinks it is a wonderful book for a girl of nineteen— nineteen, indeed, at that time.”During the months when Godwin was turning her ghost story into a novel, and nourishing yet another creature in her belly, Shelley’s wife, pregnant now with what would have been their third child, killed herself; Clairmont gave birth to a girl—Byron’s, though most people assumed it was Shelley’s—and Shelley and Godwin got married.
She didn’t put her name on her book—she published “Frankenstein” anonymously, in 1818, not least out of a concern that she might lose custody of her children—and she didn’t give her monster a name, either.
“This anonymous androdaemon,” one reviewer called it.
Sir Walter Scott wrote, in an early review, “The author seems to us to disclose uncommon powers of poetic imagination.” Scott, like many readers, assumed that the author was Percy Shelley.
Reviewers less enamored of the Romantic poet damned the book’s Godwinian radicalism and its Byronic impieties.
Ada’s mother, fearing that the girl might grow up to become a poet, as mad and bad as her father, raised her, instead, to be a mathematician. For a time, they attempted to adopt the girl, though Byron later took her, having noticed that nearly all of Godwin and Shelley’s children had died.
Ada Lovelace, a scientist as imaginative as Victor Frankenstein, would in 1843 provide an influential theoretical description of a general-purpose computer, a century before one was built.)In the spring of 1816, Byron, fleeing scandal, left England for Geneva, and it was there that he met up with Percy Shelley, Mary Godwin, and Claire Clairmont. “I so totally disapprove of the mode of Children’s treatment in their family—that I should look upon the Child as going into a hospital,” he wrote, cruelly, about the Shelleys. ” (Byron, by no means interested in rearing a child himself, placed the girl in a convent, where she died at the age of five.)When “Frankenstein,” begun in the summer of 1816, was published eighteen months later, it bore an unsigned preface by Percy Shelley and a dedication to William Godwin. “It seems to be universally known and read,” a friend wrote to Percy Shelley.