Mary Shelley & The Birth of Frankenstein, Part 4
In Part 4 of Mary Shelley and the Birth of Frankenstein, SARAH PARKIN looks at the mixed reaction the gothic novel received when it was released in 1818.
When Mary Shelley published her debut novel in 1818, nobody knew it was hers. The first edition was published anonymously, leaving reviewers free to speculate; though no attempts seem to have been made to name an author, some reviews came close.
“It is formed on the Godwinian manner, and has all the faults, but many likewise of the beauties of that model.” (The Edinburgh Magazine)
“It is piously dedicated to William Godwin, and written in the spirit of his school.” (The Quarterly Review)
Comparisons of Mary’s novel with those of her father William Godwin are clearly warranted, although another school of thought suggested that it could be Percy Shelley’s work. The use of Godwin’s tropes and themes was less important, however, than the revolutionary politics he shared with his daughter, and the potential threat they posed was keenly felt by more conservative voices.