Frankenstein Day Date in the current year: August 30, 2024

Frankenstein Day Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus is considered a landmark work of Gothic literature, as well as a pioneering science fiction novel. The birthday of its author is celebrated every year as Frankenstein Day.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (née Godwin) was the daughter of the journalist, political philosopher and novelist William Godwin and the author, philosopher and women’s rights advocate Mary Wollstonecraft, and the wife of the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. However, she is famous in her own right, first and foremost for her Gothic horror novel Frankenstein.

Mary Godwin met Percy Shelley in 1814, when she was 16 and he was 21; Shelley was one of her father’s followers and regularly visited William Godwin. Mary met with him in secret because Shelley was still married to his first wife, Harriet Westbrook, although already estranged from her. Godwin disapproved of their relationship, so the couple left for France and then relocated to Switzerland.

In 1816, the couple spent a summer near Geneva together with Mary’s stepsister Claire Clairmont, Lord Byron, and the English writer and physician John William Polidori. It was there that Mary, who had started to call herself Mrs Shelley by that point, conceived Frankenstein during a friendly writing competition. It started as a short story, but Percy Shelley encouraged her to expand the tale into a novel, which was published anonymously on January 1, 1818. The second edition was published under Mary Shelley’s name in 1821.

Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus tells the story of a young scientist named Victor Frankenstein whose experiments give him an insight into the creation of life. Frankenstein uses this newfound knowledge to create a sapient creature that turns against humans due to being feared and hated by them. Frankenstein doesn’t name his creation, but it is commonly referred to as Frankenstein’s creature, Frankenstein’s monster, or simply Frankenstein, which is a frequent source of confusion.

Frankenstein carries on the tradition of Gothic fiction and is sometimes considered the defining Gothic novel of the Romantic period. At the same time, some consider it to be the first true science fiction novel, even though Shelley doesn’t give a scientific explanation of the fantastical elements in the story. And even those who do not consider Frankenstein a work of “true” science fiction cannot deny its impact on the development of the genre.

Frankenstein Day is observed every year on Mary Shelley’s birthday, August 30. It was created to celebrate the landmark novel and Shelley’s contribution to Gothic literature, horror, and science fiction. You can observe the holiday by re-reading Frankenstein (or reading the novel for the first time if you haven’t read it yet), watching one of its many adaptations or films that feature Frankenstein’s monster but are not strictly adaptations, or throwing a horror-themed costume party for your friends. And don’t forget to spread the word on social media with the hashtag #FrankensteinDay.

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