Celebrating 200th anniversary of Frankenstein

2018 marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus.


Mary Shelley, 1831. Artist : Stump, Samuel John (1778-1863). Fine Art Images/Heritage Images / Getty Images

In the novel, Shelley (1797-1851) tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who builds a sapient creature in his laboratory through an ambiguous method consisting of chemistry and alchemy. The monster is described in the novel as 8-foot-tall, hideously ugly, but sensitive and emotional.


Boris Karloff portrays the creature created by Victor Frankenstein, 1931. Forrest J. Ackerman papers, UW American Heritage Center.

The monster attempts to fit into human society but is shunned. He later begs Victor Frankenstein to create a mate for him, a monster equally grotesque to serve as his sole companion. Victor at first refuses, then acquiesces to the creature’s demand.  But, horrified by the possible consequences of his work, Victor destroys his new creation. The monster, enraged, in turn murders Victor’s new bride. By the end of the novel, both the creature and its creator have come to tragic ends.


Publicity still from the film The Bride of Frankenstein, 1935. Forrest J. Ackerman papers, UW American Heritage Center.

To commemorate the book’s anniversary and celebrate the continued interest of Frankenstein in its various forms, the American Heritage Center is showcasing Frankenstein materials from the Forrest J. Ackerman papers, as well as an 1832 edition of the book from the AHC’s Toppan Library.


Title page of 1832 edition held in the American Heritage Center’s Toppan Rare Books Library.

The AHC has placed copies of posters of movie adaptations of the novel at the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts. The exhibit runs through November 2, 2018.

You can also visit the AHC to see a display reflecting Frankenstein’s influence on pop culture, including original materials such as the 1832 book, photos from movie sets, and fan letters from the Famous Monsters of Filmland fanzine. There are also copies of movie posters. Additionally, there is a digital display of materials in the AHC’s Loggia. The exhibit will be on display until November 2, 2018.

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Celebrate Frankenstein Friday on October 26, 2018. It is held each year on the last Friday in October.

On October 26 at noon the UW Libraries will screen the film Young Frankenstein in Coe Library, Room 123, followed at 2pm by a screening of The Bride of Frankenstein, also at Coe in Room 123. A panel discussion will follow each screening. Both events are free.

– Post submitted by Rachel Gattermeyer, AHC Digital Programs Archivist and curator of the AHC’s Frankenstein exhibits.

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