The First Museum Dedicated to Mary Shelley & Her Literary Creation, Frankenstein, Opens in Bath, England

Hal­loween came ear­ly this year!

Last week, Mary Shelley’s House of Franken­stein opened its doors in Bath, Eng­land, mere steps from the infi­nite­ly more staid Jane Austen Cen­tre.

Both authors had a con­nec­tion to Bath, a pop­u­lar tourist des­ti­na­tion since 43 CE, as evi­denced by the ruins of the Roman ther­mal spa that give the city its name and UNESCO World Her­itage Site sta­tus.

Austen lived there between 1801 and 1806, and used it as a set­ting for both Per­sua­sion and Northang­er Abbey.

The teenaged Shel­ley’s res­i­dence was briefer, but event­ful, and cre­ative­ly fer­tile.

It was here that she wed poet Per­cy Bysshe Shel­ley, learned of the sui­cides of his preg­nant first wife and her own half-sis­ter, attend­ed the birth of her ille­git­i­mate step-niece (daugh­ter of Lord Byron), attend­ed lec­tures on gal­vanism, or rean­i­ma­tion via elec­tri­cal cur­rent… and wrote the major­i­ty of Franken­stein.

Bath has long mined its con­nec­tion to Austen, but in embrac­ing Shel­ley, it stands to diver­si­fy the sort of lit­er­ary pil­grims it appeals to.

Vis­i­tors to the Jane Austen Cen­tre can try on bon­nets, exchange wit­ty repar­tee with one of her char­ac­ters, nib­ble scones with Dorset clot­ted cream in the tea room, and par­tic­i­pate in an annu­al cos­tume prom­e­nade.

Mean­while, over at the House of Franken­stein, expect omi­nous, unset­tling sound­scapes, shock­ing spe­cial effects, ghoul­ish inter­preters in blood-spat­tered aprons, “bespoke scents,” a “dank, fore­bod­ing base­ment expe­ri­ence” and an 8‑foot automa­ton of you-know-who.

(No, not Mary Shel­ley!)

Com­ing soon — Vic­tor Frankenstein’s “mis­er­able attic quar­ters” repack­aged as an escape room “strewn with insane equa­tions, strange arte­facts, and mis­cel­la­neous body parts.”

Co-founder Chris Har­ris explains the cre­ators’ immer­sive phi­los­o­phy:

We are try­ing to play on people’s fears, but we’re not tak­ing our­selves mas­sive­ly seri­ous­ly. With Mary Shelley’s House of Franken­stein, we are cre­at­ing an expe­ri­ence that, hope­ful­ly, peo­ple will real­ly enjoy in a vis­cer­al way. We want them to come out feel­ing that the expe­ri­ence was unnerv­ing, but also feel­ing hap­py. That’s the ulti­mate aim.

The BBC reports that the attrac­tion also promis­es to explore Shel­ley’s “trag­ic per­son­al life, lit­er­ary career and the nov­el­’s con­tin­u­ing rel­e­vance today in regards to pop­u­lar cul­ture, pol­i­tics, and sci­ence.”

May not be suit­able for chil­dren (or tim­o­rous Austen fans) as it con­tains “omi­nous and fore­bod­ing audio and visu­al effects, dark­ened envi­ron­ments and some scenes and depic­tions of a dis­turb­ing nature.”

Lovers of Pride and Prej­u­dice and Zom­bies, how­ev­er, should be sure to exit through the gift shop.

Vis­it the House of Franken­stein on Insta­gram where the week­ly #Franken­ste­in­Fol­low­er­Fri­day should appeal to mon­ster movie buffs of all ages.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Read­ing Mary Shelley’s Franken­stein on Its 200th Anniver­sary: An Ani­mat­ed Primer to the Great Mon­ster Sto­ry & Tech­nol­o­gy Cau­tion­ary Tale

Watch the First Film Adap­ta­tion of Mary Shelley’s Franken­stein (1910): It’s New­ly Restored by the Library of Con­gress

Mary Shelley’s Hand­writ­ten Man­u­script of Franken­stein: This Is “Ground Zero of Sci­ence Fic­tion,” Says William Gib­son

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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