Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus.

"the most famous English horror novel": Exceedingly rare first edition of Mary Shelley's masterpiece Frankenstein; one of only 500 copies printed

Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus.

[SHELLEY, Mary Wollstonecraft.


Item Number: 128130

London: Printed for Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor & Jones, 1818.

First edition of Mary Shelley’s masterpiece and “the most famous English horror novel” (Clute and Nicholls); one of only 500 copies printed. Octavo, three volumes bound in full calf, gilt titles and tooling to the spine, marbled endpapers. In near fine condition. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. An exceptional example of this exceedingly rare cornerstone of English literature, with only a handful appearing at auction.

First published in 1818, Frankenstein is not only the "most famous English horror novel" but also, by some critics' reckoning, "the first genuine science fiction novel" (Clute & Nicholls, 1099). The circumstances of its composition are by now well known: 19-year old Mary was in Switzerland with Percy Shelley, Byron, and Byron's physician John Polidori on that famous evening in 1816 when the discussion turned to one of Shelley's favorite topics, the supernatural. Byron proposed that all members of the party write a romance or tale dealing with the subject. The resulting efforts were Polidori's The Vampyre, Byron's unfinished narrative about a vampire, and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, "the most famous English horror novel… a defining model of the Gothic mode of fiction, and… the first genuine science fiction novel, the first significant rendering of the relations between mankind and science through an image of mankind's dual nature appropriate to an age of science" (Clute and Nicholls, Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, 1099). At base, the novel is one of creative powers gone wrong-a subject of paramount concern to Mary Shelley, as her own mother had died as a result of Shelley's birth, and the year before writing Frankenstein, she lost her own daughter, Clare.

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