Alison Flood, the writer for the Guardian, recently published an article detailing how the auctioning of a first edition copy of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein broke the record for how much a book published by a woman was purchased for–in this case, over a million dollars ($1,170,000 to be exact). Though this first edition is extremely delicate, it is also in excellent condition for a book that was originally published back in 1818. According to Flood, prior to Shelley’s bookselling for well over a million, this world record was also held at separate points by Jane Austen and J.K. Rowling.
Shelley’s tale was originally drafted when she, her husband Percy Shelley, and their friend Lord Byron were spending a summer next to Lake Geneva. They engaged in a contest to see who could craft the most frightening story, and Mary Shelley won. From there, she took her original idea and refined it to what was then published in 1818. In 1831, Shelley would republish her story with some distinct revisions that were not present in the original story. If anything, the 1831 version is arguably much darker than the first publication.
Frankenstein follows the story of Victor Frankenstein, a man who hungers for knowledge and for power over life and death. He digs deep into scientific texts (and then some) and begins to plunder body parts from burial places so that he can piece together his perceived notion of a perfect human being. However, when his experiment is a success and he breathes life into his creation, he is horrified by the creature’s eyes and flees, leaving the newborn being to fend for himself. And though Victor believes that he managed to escape the creature, his creation confronts him and, after explaining what he has endured during his abandonment, he asks Victor to create another being so that he does not have to be alone. And when Victor goes back on his word, the creature unleashes his fury.
For more articles on beloved classic novels, check out some more of our articles here!