It’s electrifying!

Never mind the ‘Beast from the East’ we had our own ‘monster’ to help chill us in Bath earlier this week..

An historic – if slightly chilling – event.

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.

Mary Shelley

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.

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My thanks to the Akeman Press Archive for this picture of the Abbey Church Yard. Mary stayed in the library building to the extreme right. This rank of buildings was demolished in the late 19th century following the discovery of the Roman Baths. Mary Shelley features in an Akeman Press publication called ‘Literary Walks in Bath: Eleven Excursions in the Company of Eminent Authors.”  written by Andrew Swift and Kirsten Elliott.

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.

The location of the – at this point in the proceedings – still curtained plaque. L to R Sir Christopher, the Chair of B&NES, Cllr Cherry Beath and the Head of Heritage Services, Stephen Bird.

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.


Sir Christopher completes the unveiling with the help of the Chair of B&NES Cllr Cherry Beath.

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.

The Mary Shelley plaque.

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.


Creative Producer Sheila Hannon – co-founder of the Bristol-based Show of Strength professional theatre company – which has a long history of producing new works in non-theatre spaces. She’s another keen supporter of Mary Shelley’s connections with Bath. Once again – this year – the company will be doing its ‘Walk Her (Mary Shelley’s) Footsteps’ tour of the city. That’s on various dates from March to October. Booking details via