Mary Shelley’s Handwritten Manuscripts of Frankenstein Now Online for the First Time


Thanks to the new­ly-opened Shel­ley-God­win Archive, you can read “for the first time in dig­i­tal form all the known man­u­scripts of Franken­stein,” Mary Shel­ley’s finest work and arguably the most famous work of British Roman­ti­cism.

The sto­ry behind the writ­ing of Franken­stein is famous. In 1816, Mary Shel­ley and Per­cy Bysshe Shel­ley, sum­mer­ing near Lake Gene­va in Switzer­land, were chal­lenged by Lord Byron to take part in a com­pe­ti­tion to write a fright­en­ing tale. Mary, only 18 years old, lat­er had a wak­ing dream of sorts where she imag­ined the premise of her book:

When I placed my head on my pil­low, I did not sleep, nor could I be said to think. My imag­i­na­tion, unbid­den, pos­sessed and guid­ed me, gift­ing the suc­ces­sive images that arose in my mind with a vivid­ness far beyond the usu­al bounds of rever­ie. I saw — with shut eyes, but acute men­tal vision, — I saw the pale stu­dent of unhal­lowed arts kneel­ing beside the thing he had put togeth­er. I saw the hideous phan­tasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the work­ing of some pow­er­ful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion.

This became the ker­nel of Franken­stein; or, The Mod­ern Prometheusthe nov­el first pub­lished in Lon­don in 1818, with only 500 copies put in cir­cu­la­tion. In writ­ing Franken­stein, Shel­ley used a series of note­books that “can now be viewed in high qual­i­ty, resiz­able page images.” Each hand-writ­ten page comes accom­pa­nied by a typed tran­script. Find them all here.

manuscript frankenstein

Fund­ed by The Nation­al Endow­ment for the Human­i­ties and The Gladys Krieble Del­mas Foun­da­tion, the new archive was assem­bled by the Uni­ver­si­ty of Maryland’s Insti­tute for Tech­nol­o­gy in the Human­i­ties, The New York Pub­lic Library, the Bodleian Library, The Hunt­ing­ton, and the Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty Library.

Down the line, the Shel­ley-God­win Archive “will pro­vide the dig­i­tized man­u­scripts of Per­cy Bysshe Shel­ley, Mary Woll­stonecraft Shel­ley, William God­win, and Mary Woll­stonecraft, bring­ing togeth­er online for the first time ever the wide­ly dis­persed hand­writ­ten lega­cy of this unique­ly gift­ed fam­i­ly of writ­ers.” So stay tuned for more.

Note: The Archive rec­om­mends using recent ver­sions of Google’s Chrome brows­er or the lat­est ver­sion of Safari or Mozil­la Fire­fox when view­ing the man­u­scripts.

via The New York Times

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Lit­er­a­ture: Free Online Cours­es

See F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Hand­writ­ten Man­u­scripts for The Great Gats­by, This Side of Par­adise & More

The Online Emi­ly Dick­in­son Archive Makes Thou­sands of the Poet’s Man­u­scripts Freely Avail­able

James Joyce Man­u­scripts Online, Free Cour­tesy of The Nation­al Library of Ire­land

Franken­stein: The First Adap­ta­tion of Mary Shelley’s Nov­el to Film (1910)

Find Franken­stein in our Free eBooks and Free Audio Books col­lec­tions

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