“Invention … does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos”—Mary Shelley
In the two hundred years since its first publication, the story of Frankenstein’s creation during stormy days and nights at Byron’s Villa Diodati on Lake Geneva has become literary legend. In this compelling and innovative book, Daisy Hay stitches together the objects and manuscripts of the novel’s turbulent genesis in order to bring its story back to life.
Frankenstein was inspired by the extraordinary people surrounding the eighteen-year-old author and by the places and historical dramas that formed the backdrop of her youth. Featuring manuscripts, portraits, illustrations, and artifacts, The Making of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” explores the novel’s time and place, the people who inspired its characters, the relics of its long afterlife, and the notebooks in which it was created. Hay strips Frankenstein back to its constituent parts to reveal an uneven novel written by a young woman deeply engaged in the process of working out what she thought about the pressing issues of her time: from science, politics, religion, and slavery to maternity, the imagination, creativity, and community. Richly illustrated throughout, this is an astute and intricate biography of the novel for all those fascinated by its essential, brilliant chaos.