Never mind the ‘Beast from the East’ we had our own ‘monster’ to help chill us in Bath earlier this week..
On the 200th anniversary of its publication, we had gathered in Abbey Church Yard to honour the woman who gave us the nightmare that is Frankenstein.
Yes, Mary Shelley wrote the dark gothic novel while lodging in a guest house that stood alongside the Grand Pump Room.
It’s been replaced now by the Concert Hall that became the way into the Roman Baths. Mary stayed at this address after she arrived in the city in September 1816.
While she was here she attended scientific lectures by a Dr Wilkinson in the nearby Kingston Lecture Room. He suggested that one day electricity – then in its infancy – might be used to bring inanimate matter to life.
This idea resonated with Mary who had made notes of the nightmares she had during a stormy night in Switzerland earlier that year when staying with the poets Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron. Out of these experiences came the novel Frankenstein.
Mary and Percy married in December 1816. By the time Mary left Bath in February 1817 much of the novel had been written. It was published anonymously in London in January 1818. Mary died in 1851 when 54 years old.
A plaque has been positioned above what would have been the cellar beneath her lodging house. Ironically, it now contains an electricity substation.
Performing the official opening was Professor Sir Christopher Frayling – a recognised authority on Gothic fiction and film – who is also the author of ‘Frankenstein – the first two hundred years’ which is published by Reel Art Press.
The driving force behind this commemoration was Betty Suchar, Chair of the Management Committee of the Bath Royal Scientific and Literary Institute.
Sir Christopher, who is best known for his study of popular culture – went on to give a lecture on Mary Shelley at the BRSLI after the unveiling.