Monster Day 02: “Birth of a Legend”
So how does a young Victorian woman at the age of 20 find the influence for one of the greatest Gothic Horror tales of all time? There are many theories and side stories but the most consistent is in the year 1816 Mary Shelley along with her husband Percy Shelley and her stepsister Claire traveled to Lake Geneva to spend a summer season at Villa Diodati. There the three met with fellow writer Lord Byron, with whom Claire was having an affair with, and Byron’s friend Dr. John Pollidori. Due to frequent rain storms the group were often confined indoors where at some point the subject of ghosts and horror stories became a focal point of their talks. As the story goes, Byron challenges everyone to write their own horror story. The 1986 film “Gothic” is loosely based on the events of this summer. Pollidori and Byron merge their works into what was later to become The Vampyre, a work that is said to have influenced Stoker’s “Dracula”. Mary creates “Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus”. And the Castle Frankenstein? It is widely believed that on the way to Geneva Mary, Percy and Claire stop in Germany where they either learned about Dr. Johann Conrad Dippel who was born in Castle Frankenstein, known for medical research and theories on transferring the soul of one dead person to another, or visited the Castle itself as a way point. Note: You can visit the real life Castle Frankenstein usually FREE OF CHARGE.
There were other events in Mary’s life said to influence the final draft of the novel “Frankenstein”. Shortly after the trio’s return to England Mary’s half sister Fanny Imlay was found dead, ruled a possible suicide. Also at the end of the same year Percy Shelley’s legal wife Harriet mysteriously drowned in the Serpentine Lake at Hyde Park London and was considered a suicide as well.
While Mary is most famous for “Frankenstein” and editing Percy’s works she also wrote an Apocolyptic novel called The Last Man. Mary lived to the ripe old age of 53 and died in February 1851 leaving behind a legacy what would influence, change and mold Gothic Horror forever. The photo below is the real life Castle Frankenstein located in Germany.