Women in Horror Month Spotlight on Mary Shelley

by Christine Caprilozzi

While kicking off Women in Horror Month, I would feel a bit remiss if I did not to recognize the contributions of the most influential women in horror history, Mary Shelley.  2018 marks the 200th anniversary of her iconic masterpiece Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus. Released in January of 1818, the book tells the tale of resurrecting the dead by the use of electricity.  When first published, the author was listed as “Anonymous,” with most people assuming it was Percy Shelley, Mary’s husband, who penned the book. Most felt this assumption was due to the fact that he wrote the introduction. Although, in 19th century Europe, who would have thought a young woman’s imaginative tale would influence an entire genre in such a historical way.  To celebrate Mary, below are five facts you should know about this pioneering woman of horror and her masterpiece.



  • Mary Shelley was just 21 when Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus was published.
  • Shelley’s mother was the eighteenth century feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, who wrote The Vindication of the Rights of Women in 1792.
  • Although most famous for Frankenstein, Shelley also wrote other books including Valpergal (1823), The Last Man (1826), and the autobiographical Lodore which was also published under the title The Beautiful Widow (1835).
  • Prometheus in Greek mythology was said to be the wisest of all the Titans. Shelley mirrors the tale of Prometheus with Dr. Frankenstein’s consequences resulting from seeking enlightenment and power.
  • Although the most influential film starred Boris Karloff in 1931, the first adaptation of Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus was in 1910 and was produced by Thomas Edison.




Over the years there have been so many films and pieces of pop culture that can be tied back to Mary Shelley’s classic. From Young Frankenstein to The Rocky Horror Picture Show to Frankenweenie, all tip their hat to this 19th century pioneer of women in horror.  For Women in Horror Month 2018, we salute Mary Shelley, a young woman before her time, who influenced centuries of culture.


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