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March 11

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Young Mary learned about history and writing from her father, who believed, (unlike many dads of the day), that girls were equally entitled to an education.

Image by Stringer/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

1818: Oh, the Horror of it All
Frankenstein is published
How could it be Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was only 18 years old when she started writing the book Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus?  Here’s part of the explanation: At the time she wrote it, she and her friends would entertain each other with ghost stories. Back then, Shelley wasn’t thinking about a super-tall green guy with bolts in his neck. (That’s a concept introduced by Frankenstein movies, cartoons, and storybooks.)

Truthfully, Shelley was trying to write a story warning people about the dangers of the Industrial Revolution, in which machines were taking over many jobs. Still, she used the scary idea of a person—Dr. Frankenstein—making and bringing to life a monster. Her book, published when she was 21, proved to be one of the classic examples of the Gothic fiction movement.
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