Mary Shelly and her circle
When Mary Shelley (1797-1851) was 18, she had a dream that would change her life.
It was during 1815, “the year without a summer”, when the eruption of Indonesian volcano Mount Tambora became the largest known volcanic eruption in history, sending the climate across Europe haywire.
On holiday beside Lake Geneva with poets Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley and the physician John Polidori, Mary and the group entertained themselves indoors by reading from a book of ghost stories. Afterwards, Byron set a challenge: they would each write their own ghost stories and vote for the winner.
Shelley based hers on a dream. Byron described her story as “a wonderful work for a girl” and she decided to make it into a novel. Two years later, in 1818, it was published.
Frankenstein, or, the Modern Prometheus, was an instant hit.