Thursday 24 November, 6.30pm drinks reception for 7.00pm talk
‘It was on a dreary night of November, that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils’
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, 1818
In May 1816, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Godwin and Claire Clairmont moved to Geneva where they would live near Lord Byron and his physician-companion, Dr. John William Polidori. Over the next few weeks, this group of young intellectuals spent almost all their time together, sailing on Lake Geneva by day, and reading and conversing in the evenings. One night in late May or early June, a ghost-story writing competition began. Inspired by this, the 18-year-old Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (later Mary Shelley) conceived what is now one of the most iconic tales in English literature. Frankenstein was published anonymously nineteen months later.
The event at Chawton House in 2016 celebrates the bicentenary of the composition of the Romantic period’s most famous novel, and this fruitful period of creativity for both Shelleys in 1816. The event will include a reading of the preface and the introduction of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the most famous scene in the novel when the creature awakens (‘It was on a dreary night of November, that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils’), and excerpts from Percy Shelley’s ‘Mont Blanc’. Two scholars (Anna Mercer, University of York and David Higgins, University of Leeds) will give short talks on the Shelleys’ collaborative literary relationship, and 1816 as ‘the Year Without a Summer’.
Tickets: £11; Students/Friends £8.50 (includes drinks and canapés)