The idea for Frankenstein was born on a stormy night in June 1816. Shelley was just 18 at the time. She and four friends had a contest to see who could write the spookiest story. The beginnings of her now-famous tale came to her in a nightmare.
It’s the story of scientist Victor Frankenstein. He uses parts from different bodies to build a hideous 8-foot-tall monster. He brings it to life using electricity. Feeling lonely and misunderstood, the creature terrorizes people close to Frankenstein. (Though some people refer to the monster as Frankenstein, he isn’t named in the book.)
Shelley’s scary tale won the story-writing contest. She later expanded her story into a novel. On January 1, 1818, Frankenstein was published in England, Shelley’s home country.
Over the years, Shelley’s story—and its famous monster—became popular around the world. Different versions of Frankenstein’s monster have appeared in movies, plays, comic books, and more. Today, the book is required reading in English classes in many high schools and colleges. And it has been published in about 30 languages.
Fraistat says there’s one person who would be surprised by Frankenstein’s lasting fame.
“Mary Shelley would be shocked,” he says.