5. Mary wrote Frankenstein when she was just 19 after a waking vision- not a dream.
The story of the conception of Frankenstein is well known. During the summer of 1816, Shelley, Mary, and Claire Clairmont met with Lord Byron at Lake Geneva. The two poets hit it off surprisingly well, and so their parties merged and decided to spend the summer together. One night, while staying at Byron’s house on the shores of the lake, the group began to entertain each other with ghost stories. Suddenly, Byron proposed they should each create their own tale. Shelley and Byron both failed to finish their stories. Mary, on the other hand, came up with the germ of the idea for Frankenstein.
The story goes that Mary came up with her monster and his creator in a dream. However, this is not strictly accurate. For at the time the story came to her, Mary was suffering from insomnia. “I did not sleep, nor could I be said to think,” Mary later wrote in the 1831 edition of Frankenstein. Nevertheless, in a semi-somnolent state, “with shut eyes but acute mental vision,” the whole plot passed before her eyes. The story appeared as a series of visions. “I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out and then on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, “wrote Mary.
Frankenstein was eventually published in November 1817 after being rejected by three publishers. With its tale of experiments and science, it is widely accepted as the first science fiction novel. However, Mary Shelley’s story wasn’t just influenced by the visions of a sleepless night in 1816.