Frankenstein, Mary Shelley and Me by Sheila English

As someone who has studied Mary Shelley and her classic FRANKENSTEIN, I find the story still holds the interest of readers over 200 years after it was written. A story of a man who played God and the creature who suffered for it is one that I believe will always hold intrigue for readers.

There are three versions of Frankenstein, the first published in 1818, the second in 1821, and the third in 1831. The first was originally published without Mary’s name in 1818. The second was published by a French publisher in 1821 and that was the first time Mary’s name would appear. Mary also had an opportunity to make some minor adjustments to this version. Primarily she changed things like word usage. In 1831 she not only had her name on this version but did a forward for it explaining that the idea for the book came from a dream. In this version, she made more significant changes.

The Universal Studios version of Frankenstein took quite a lot of liberties with their interpretation of the story. In the movie, the creature had bolts in its neck, a flat head and was greenish. It also couldn’t speak and was childlike. In the book, the creature was intelligent, which may actually be a bit more sad when you consider how he was treated.

Consider that you’re created, not born. You have no family and no friends. Everyone who sees you either runs away in fear or wants to destroy you. If this is your life how would you develop a personality? That is the question that drove me to write my Adam Frankenstein series and comics.

I call him Adam, as many others have done before me, not only because of a passage in the book in which the creature says, “I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel…”, but because Mary herself referred to him as Adam during signings and lectures. I’ve had people contact me to inform me that Frankenstein is the doctor. Thank you for that. I actually did know. But I kept the name “Frankenstein” for the creature as well especially since modern culture recognizes the name in association to the creature. I named him Adam to clearly delineate between the scientist and the creature.

In one of the short stories of Adam Frankenstein, I realized that without anyone to care about him he would truly become monstrous. And so I gave him a dog: Bella. It sounds simple but the act of loving and being loved was the only way to save his humanity. Luckily, Bella is immortal as well so he has a companion that can help teach him things like loyalty, trust, and consideration.

Mary Shelley was so intriguing to me that I had to have her be a character in my series. Her real-life was full of mystery, tragedy, and intrigue. Only one of her four children survived to adulthood. What would losing three children do to someone’s mental state…their soul? The love of her life, Percy Shelley, was actually not such a nice guy. He was married when he fell in love with Mary. His wife was pregnant. And Mary was only 16 when Percy seduced her. People tend to skip over those details and romanticize the relationship between Mary and Percy. I do not. In my books Percy is presented in the light I feel he deserves. Mary, however, was a hero. Yes, she was manipulated by an older, married man, but she was strong. Her mother was a famous feminist. And even though she died days after Mary’s birth, she still influenced young Mary through her many writings. Mary had courage and intelligence. In my books, she’s a heroine.

Adam and Mary create Mary Shelley’s League of Supernatural Hunters and are soon joined by John Polidori, Washington Irving, and other well-known authors who would become monster hunters. Many of my stories are historical, but the Adam Frankenstein novels are all contemporary. And we are introduced to other authors and their targets such as Robert Louis Stevenson and Oscar Wilde in an upcoming graphic novels that pit Dorian Gray against Jekyll and Hyde. Think about how many authors have written horror or paranormal through the ages and I’m sure you can think of several potential situations in which Mary’s League could be involved. It’s been so fun researching the authors and revisiting classic horror novels.

If you’re interested in the short story of how Adam acquired his dog, Bella, you can read it for free here-

Sheila English



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Sheila English
Award-winning author of short stories and comic books. Telly award-winning producer and director of many book trailers.

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