Mary Godwin Wollstonecraft, eighteen years old in 1815, spent a frigid, summer when she and her lover and husband to be—Percy Bysshe Shelley paid a visit to Lord Byron at his Villa by
Lake Geneva in . The rain and gloom cancelled a summer filled with the pleasures of the outdoors and the trio stayed inside the Villa Diodati consoling themselves with warmth and conversation. One of the subjects discussed was the achievability of returning a cadaver or accumulated sections of the body to life. The trio read ghost stories and at Byron’s suggestion each would write an unnatural narrative. Switzerland
Mary Shelley created Frankenstein after she had a dream that aroused sensations of fear and horror. In the nightmare, she watched as a “student kneeled beside a thing he had put together...a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life...” The short story Mary Shelley began grew into a novel where Victor Frankenstein is passionate about science and believes he can channel the power of lightning. He develops a course of action that will return the dead to life and plans on the creation of a beautiful creature, instead thing that emerges is—in his eyes—a monster and Frankenstein rejects his own creation.
We craft our own individuals when we write—taking physical characteristics and eccentricities from strangers, relatives and friends, we use parts of stories never finished but overheard in restaurants and plot their endings. We borrow a pithy line that made us laugh while eavesdropping during a dull subway ride—and combine them all into characters that we hope will live and breathe in the pages of our stories and novels. Sometimes our characters rebel and add a twist to our plot. The beautiful heroine has a fatal flaw; the villain has undiscovered good in him waiting to be discovered. When we pick up our pen or sit down at our computer we use our gifts as writers to animate and bring our characters to life just as Victor Frankenstein through the writing of Mary Godwin Wollstonecraft Shelley used electrical power to bring his creature to a life that is remembered generation after generation.