Today in 1818, a legendary icon of literature and horror was born. Mary Shelley, just 21 at the time, published her masterpiece, Frankenstein.
To think, at 21 she created a work of fiction that will surely last well beyond its 200 year anniversary that is coming up in 2018. Countless printings and cinema editions have been produced from this single piece of literature. The number of appearances by her creation in television is testament to its enduring appeal to the masses.
I have always been familiar with the book, having read it multiple times in my youth. I never realized then that she was only 21 at the time of publication. It seems unreal. She had to have been a truly amazing young woman. I have trouble picturing myself at 21 being ready to put forth anything of its like.
I wonder what she would tell today’s youth about success and having dreams. When most youth here in the states are thinking about the day they can legally buy alcohol (I know not all but it was something we all thought about), she was publishing her first, and greatest novel. Not only was she young, but she was a woman in the 1800s. Women had fewer rights in those days. They were often viewed as little more than property to the patriarch of their family. Property to be sold off to the highest bidder, or for the most political gain. Then they would be treated as property by their new husband. Mary seemed lucky in that regard to have truly married for love.
Fortune did not come easily in her lifetime. Tragedy also struck as most of her children did not survive into adulthood. She lived most of her life on a small stipend from her father-in-law, until her one surviving son came into his inheritance and title.
What we should take from Mary’s story my Gentle Readers is to never give up. If a young woman in the 1800s could create such an enduring classic piece of literary history, then there is hope for us to eke out a space on the shelf nearby. Until next time. Live well, write well, be well.