Making the Monster: The Science Behind Mary Shelley's Frankenstein by Kathryn Harkup; In Search of Mary Shelley: The Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein by Fiona Sampson - review by Duncan Wu

Duncan Wu

Piecing it All Together

Making the Monster: The Science Behind Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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Bloomsbury 304pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

In Search of Mary Shelley: The Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein

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Profile Books 304pp £18.99 order from our bookshop
 

‘It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils’: the line runs too deep in the marrow to be dismissed as mere cliché, as if it echoes some long-forgotten incantation. Yet it was composed a mere two centuries ago, occurring at the beginning of an everyday tale of DIY resurrection and psychic disintegration, written by an eighteen-year-old girl who had eloped to the Continent with her lover, a flaxen-haired, anaemic, shrill-voiced hooligan called Bysshe.

There is a chasm between the scale and reach of the myth she created, with its extraordinary prescience of humanity’s imminent demise at the hands of its own technological potency, and what we know of her as a teenager. Kathryn Harkup’s Making the Monster and Fiona Sampson’s In

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