I loved old horror movies as a child — I remember watching the black and white Bela Lugosi movies with my oldest brother. I loved “Dracula.”
Lugosi made so many movies during his career, but is best known for his role as Dracula in Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.”
I also loved the “Mummy,” the “Werewolf,” and my favorite, the “Frankenstein” movies. I remember the first time I read Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” I was mesmerized. The book is fairly big, even so I read it twice as a young person.
For whatever reason, the first time I read Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” was not until high school. I was expecting it to be like the movies I had seen so many times, and of course in some ways it was. The theme was the same — a scientist/doctor created a creature and brought it to life.
In so many other ways, however, the book is vastly different than most Frankenstein movies.
The story of Mary Shelley is also one worth hearing. Born in London in 1797, Shelley’s parents were both rather famous. Her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft was an early feminist who wrote “The Vindication of the Rights of Woman,” in 1792. Her father, William Godwin was a philosopher and political writer with quite a following.
Shelley met and fell in love with her future husband, Percy Shelley, when she was just a teenager. He was married at the time, but the two ran off together anyway when she was just 17 years old. Tragically, the scorned wife committed suicide and Mary and Percy eventually married.
While “summering” in Switzerland, the Shelley’s were visiting with their friends Lord Byron and John Polidori and Byron came up with the challenge of seeing who in the group could write the best horror story.
While at first she struggled coming up with an idea, she had a dream about a young scientist who wanted to create a beautiful creature, but instead created a hideous being. Shelley was just 18 years old and while it began as a story, Percy encouraged her to continue developing the story into a novel.
“Frankenstein” was published in 1818 when Shelley was just 20 years old, and while there are always some who are critical, the book secured Shelley’s position as a successful writer and though she wrote other things, “Frankenstein” is what she will always be remembered for.
If you have never read Mary Shlley’s “Frankenstein,” with all of the spooky things around, this is a great month to do so. The monster in the story teaches himself to read and to speak, and has such a sad existence — you find yourself at times feeling sorry for the creature in a way you probably don’t when you see any of the Frankenstein movies.
The novel has a little bit of everything — romance, tragedy, suspense, heartbreak, and of course, horror. Now that the weather is finally cooling off, this is the perfect book to read in front of a roaring fire.
South Forsyth resident Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.