Highlighting Dundee's part in creation of Frankenstein

A new Dundee edition of Frankenstein celebrating author Mary Shelley's links to the city is to be published and distributed free to local schoolchildren later this year.

Mary Shelleys Gothic novel has inspired generations of illustrators, writers and film-makers.
Mary Shelleys Gothic novel has inspired generations of illustrators, writers and film-makers.

The move coincides with the 200th anniversary of the classic Gothic novel’s publication. The book will include the complete 1818 text of the ground-breaking novel, as well as dozens of commissioned images produced by award-winning local comics artists.

Shelley spent two years living in Dundee’s South Baffin Street as a teenager after her father, William Godwin, sent her to live with the Baxter family, whose wealth came from the jute industry. The Baxters’ home, “The Cottage” in Ferry Road, was mentioned in the text of Frankenstein.

This period in her life would profoundly influence Shelley, as she later acknowledged: “It was beneath the trees of the grounds belonging to our house, or on the bleak sides of the woodless mountains near, that my true compositions, the airy flights of my imagination, were born and fostered.”

The iconic portrayal of the monster by Boris Karloff.

The tale of the young scientist Victor Frankenstein who creates a monster was published anonymously on 1 January, 1818 when Shelley was aged 18. Her name appeared on the second edition.

Dr Daniel Cook, of the University of Dundee’s English department, who is editing the book, said: “Frankenstein is one of the most influential novels ever written.

“It is studied in schools and universities across the English-speaking world, and everyone is in some way familiar with the story of the god-like scientist and his monstrous creation, through movies, caricatures or popular culture more generally.

“We are very excited to build on the existing scholarship around Mary Shelley’s time here and to bring out this special edition. By circulating free copies in print and online we hope even more people will be inspired by the novel, and connect it more firmly with the place where it all began for the young Shelley: Dundee in 1812.”

A plaque marks the site where Shelley lived in Dundee.

Broadcaster Billy Kay, currently working on a BBC Scotland radio documentary exploring Shelley’s Dundee, is writing the foreword.

The new edition of Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus will be released online in a downloadable format while thousands of copies will be printed and given to schoolchildren in Dundee and surrounding areas.

The project is funded by Dundee University’s Art and Humanities Research Institute (AHRI) as part of the institution’s ongoing involvement with the national Being Human Festival of the Humanities.

In addition to producing a full-length comic book entitled Frankenstein Begins, the team have showcased their work nationally and internationally. A sequel to the comic, Frankenstein Returns, will also be launched.