Monday, August 30, 2021

Happy Birthday, Mary Shelley!

Today is the birthday of Mary Shelley, the gothic novelist who gave the world Frankenstein, a book that has been adapted to the stage over and over again.

In 1823, Richard Brinsley Peake wrote the first stage adaptation of Shelley's novel, which he titled Presumption; or, The Fate of Frankenstein. Later that year, however, he wrote a parody of his own play, Another Piece of Presumption, which featured a tailor named Frankinstitch. At one point, Frankinstitch calls out:

Every moment lost sticks in my gizzard! Good gracious how I have been cogibundating since I read that wonderful peculiar romance--I have cut out many a gentleman's coat, waistcoat and breeches, but now my ambition is to manufacture a gentleman itself.

Other parodies followed, including the anonymous Frank-in-Steam; or, The Modern Promise to Pay, which features "a natural and experimental Philosopher--in love and debt."

Most of us today are more familiar with film adaptations of Frankenstein, though. A 1910 film made by the Edison studio was recently restored and is now available on YouTube.

You might consider watching it to celebrate Shelley's birthday. (She would be 224 if re-animated today.) If not, just raise a glass to the young lady who made monsters!