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Two hundred years on: the story behind Frankenstein

Posted on 7 July 2016

The story behind one of the most famous novels in the English language is set to be explored during a public reading of Romantic poetry and prose at the University of York.

Credit: The frontispiece to the 1831 edition of FrankensteinThe frontispiece to the 1831 edition of Frankenstein

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was written 200 years ago in June and July of 1816 - in what became known as the Year Without a Summer.

The event will feature readings from the works of Mary Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley and two short academic talks by University of York PhD student Anna Mercer and Dr David Higgins from the University of Leeds.

Anna Mercer said: “Two hundred years ago Mary and Percy Shelley travelled to Lake Geneva where they would meet Lord Byron and stay near each other at the lake.

“Because of the poor weather they stayed indoors and read ghost stories to each other, the result of which was a writing competition that led to the composition of Frankenstein".

“The story of Frankenstein still resonates today. It is a fantastic story that everyone knows; you don’t even have to say who it is by - everyone knows the story.

“If you don’t know anything beyond the book; this event will hopefully stimulate you to find out more about the authors and the other things they went on to write.

“What people might not be aware of was the collaborative spirit between authors and in particular this creative group of young intellectuals which included Mary Shelley. People tend to think authors are solitary people, but there was a lot of collaboration.”

Further information:

  • The event: On This Day in 1816: The Bicentenary of Frankenstein’s Composition takes place on Thursday 14 July 2016, 7.00pm
  • Location: The Huntingdon Room, King’s Manor, York
  • Those who wish to attend must register through the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies website:
  • This event will also take place a week later at the Keats-Shelley House, Rome on 23 July 2016.
  • Sponsors: Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies at the University of York, The British Association for Romantic Studies (BARS), The British Society for Eighteenth Century Studies (BSECS), The Keats-Shelley House in Rome.

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