Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (or simply, Frankenstein for short), is a novel written by English author Mary Shelley (1797-1851) that tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who creates a grotesque but sapient creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment. Shelley started writing the story when she was 18, and the first edition of the novel was published anonymously in London in 1818, when she was 20. Her name first appeared on the second edition, published in France in 1823.Shelley travelled through Europe in 1814, journeying along the River Rhine in Germany with a stop in Gernsheim which is 17 km (10 mi) away from Frankenstein Castle, where, two centuries before, an alchemist was engaged in experiments.Later, she travelled in the region of Geneva (Switzerland)—where much of the story takes place—and the topic of galvanism and other similar occult ideas were themes of conversation among her companions, particularly her lover and future husband, Percy Shelley. Mary, Percy, Lord Byron and John Polidori decided to have a competition to see who could write the best horror story. After thinking for days, Shelley dreamt about a scientist who created life and was horrified by what he had made; her dream later evolved into the novel’s story.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. Brian Aldiss has argued that it should be considered the first true science fiction story because, in contrast to previous stories with fantastical elements resembling those of later science fiction, the central character “makes a deliberate decision” and “turns to modern experiments in the laboratory” to achieve fantastic results. It has had a considerable influence in literature and popular culture and spawned a complete genre of horror stories, films and plays.
Since the novel’s publication, the name “Frankenstein” has often been used to refer to the monster itself. This usage is sometimes considered erroneous, but usage commentators regard it as well-established and acceptable. In the novel, the monster is identified by words such as “creature”, “monster”, “demon”, “wretch,” “abortion,” and “it”. Speaking to Victor Frankenstein, the wretch refers to himself as “the Adam of your labours”, and elsewhere as someone who “would have [been] your Adam”, but is instead “your fallen angel” (which ties to Lucifer in Paradise Lost, which the monster reads, and relates to the “modern” Prometheus of the book’s subtitle).
1823: Richard Brinsley Peake’s adaptation, Presumption; or, the Fate of Frankenstein, was seen by Mary Shelley and her father William Godwin at the English Opera House.
1826: Henry M. Milner’s adaptation, The Man and The Monster; or The Fate of Frankenstein opened on 3 July at the Royal Coburg Theatre, London.
1910: Edison Studios produced the first Frankenstein film, directed by J. Searle Dawley.
1915: Life Without Soul, the second film adaptation of Mary Shelley’s novel, was released. No known print of the film has survived.
1920: The Monster of Frankenstein, Directed by Eugenio Testa, starring Luciano Albertini and Umberto Guarracino.
1931: Universal Studios’ Frankenstein, directed by James Whale, starring Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles, Edward Van Sloan, Dwight Frye, and Boris Karloff as the monster.
1935: James Whale directed the sequel Bride of Frankenstein, starring Colin Clive as the Doctor, and Boris Karloff as the monster once more. This incorporated the novel’s plot motif of Doctor Frankenstein creating a bride for the monster omitted from Whale’s earlier film. There were two more sequels, prior to the Universal “monster rally” films combining multiple monsters from various movie series or film franchises.
1939: Son of Frankenstein was another Universal monster movie with Boris Karloff as the Creature. Also in the film were Basil Rathbone as the title character and Bela Lugosi as the sinister assistant Ygor. Karloff ended playing the Frankenstein monster with this film.
1942: The Ghost of Frankenstein featured brain transplanting and a new monster, played by Lon Chaney Jr. The film also starred Evelyn Ankers and Bela Lugosi.
1942–1948: Universal did “monster rally” films featuring Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula and the Wolf Man. Included would be Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. The last three films introduced Glenn Strange as Frankenstein’s monster.
1957–1974: Hammer Films in England did a string of Frankenstein films starring Peter Cushing, including The Curse of Frankenstein, The Revenge of Frankenstein and Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed. Co-starring in these films were Christopher Lee, Hazel Court, Veronica Carlson and Simon Ward. Another Hammer film, The Horror of Frankenstein, starred Ralph Bates as the main character, Victor Frankenstein.
1965: Toho Studios created the film Frankenstein Conquers the World or Frankenstein vs. Baragon, followed by War of the Gargantuas.
1972: A comedic stage adaptation, Frankenstein’s Monster, was written by Sally Netzel and produced by the Dallas Theater Center.
1973: The TV film Frankenstein: The True Story appeared on NBC. The movie starred Leonard Whiting, Michael Sarrazin, James Mason, and Jane Seymour.
1981: A Broadway adaptation by Victor Gialanella played for one performance (after 29 previews) and was considered the most expensive flop ever produced to that date.
1984: The flop Broadway production yielded a TV film starring Robert Powell, Carrie Fisher, David Warner, and John Gielgud.
1992: Frankenstein became a Turner Network Television film directed by David Wickes, starring Patrick Bergin and Randy Quaid. John Mills played the blind man.
1994: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein appeared in theatres, directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh, with Robert De Niro and Helena Bonham Carter. Its all-star cast also included John Cleese, Ian Holm, and Tom Hulce.
2004: Frankenstein A 2 episode mini-series starring Alec Newman, with Luke Goss and Donald Sutherland. This is the only T.V. or movie adaption that is faithful to the novel.