Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – gothic story contest winner dismissed by British Critic

By Robert Reed

The novel Frankenstein was written by Mary Shelley whilst on holiday visiting Lord Byron at his villa by Lake Geneva.  The weather was awful, so the group of friends decided to have a competition to see who could write the best horror story.  Mary won.  (Byron came up with some mad idea about vampires based on his travels in Eastern Europe- it’s not as if that would ever become hugely successful.) 

Frankenstein was published when Mary was just twenty-one years old in 1818.  The public loved the book, but critics were divided:  for example, the British Critic wrote, “The writer of it is, we understand a female… and we shall therefore dismiss the novel without further comment.”

Fortunately, times have changed British Critic. Also, Frankenstein is now recognised as a truly inspirational work, which continues to influence modern culture.  Hmm, I wonder where the idea for The Incredible Hulk came from?  (My daughter insists I mention the character of Frankie Stein in Monster High as well- okay, so now I’ve mentioned it.)

If you would like to use a Frankenstein story with children, there is a funny version Mrs Frankenstein M.D. available as a role play here:

If you have an assignment to write on Frankenstein, and need a little help, visit: .

Frankenstein is a scary tale about a slightly crazy scientist whose experiments go very wrong and he creates a monster with disastrous consequences. (Oh, and the monster is really quite a sad creature- boo hoo for him.)

Yep, even back in the early nineteenth-century people were wary about what scientists were getting up to in their labs and we can consider Frankenstein as not merely a horror story, but also one of the earliest works of science-fiction.

Leave a Reply