Frankenstein at 200: Public Reading

Celebrate the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein with a public reading of the novel.

Sign up to read Wednesday, October 3 at the Old Capitol East Entrance or Old Capitol Supreme Court Chamber in inclement weather.
20 minute reading slots are available starting at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 6:00 p.m., or until the book ends.

Click to sign up.





The Hunt for Frankenstein

Seeing green? You’re not alone. We’ve been putting up Frankenfacts all around town for you to hunt down! But just like Shelley’s iconic horror masterpiece these flyers won’t give away the whole story right away.
Find each clue in the monster’s signature color then dig into the following facts to learn more about Frankenstein’s conception, and all the misconceptions surrounding this infamous novel. So, go ahead and get Frankenfact finding!



Most people nowadays recognize the title character of Mary Shelley’s classic horror novel is, in fact, Victor Frankenstein, the mad scientist archetype that creates the monster, not the monster itself. But if you have made this mistake once or twice you’re not completely to blame. This blunder has been so consistent throughout the history of the two characters that many film, TV, and book adaptations have used the same error! The misconception has actually happened so many times that the term “Frankenstein”, itself, has come to mean something unnatural or horrendous.




I’m guessing if we asked a group of people to draw Victor Frankenstein’s monster we’d end up with a bunch of pictures of more or less the same thing. We all know the picture: Big, sluggish guy with a square head, bolts coming out of his temples, stitches, dark hair, spooky sleep deprived eyes, a torn up suit that doesn’t quite fit, and- oh yeah- he’s green. But in the book we get a very specific description of Frankenstein’s creature, and he isn’t green at all- he’s yellow. “His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun-white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complexion and straight black lips.”



Another misconception about the monster’s appearance. Maybe this image was perpetuated to sell more masks around Halloween, or maybe Hollywood wasn’t comfortable with Frankenstein’s monster looking too humanoid. Either way avid readers know that this emblematic image of science fiction exists only in the movies. In Shelley’s novel the creature is far more life like- well, apart from the fact that he is made from cobbled together corpses. Now that’s a truly terrifying image!




In Mary Shelley’s original text this phrase was never used! However, this gothic horror classic has become so iconic that it has inspired over fifty film adaptations, many television references, one cereal variety, and even the Aerosmith hit, “Walk This Way”. Rumor has it that Steven Tyler named one of the band’s biggest songs after watching an adaption of the Frankenstein story, Young Frankenstein, in which Igor instructs Dr. Frankenstein to “walk this way”.




1816 has been dubbed the “Year Without Summer” due to severe climate abnormalities caused by massive volcanic eruptions from Mount Tambora in 1815. This catastrophic volcanic eruption, which took place in present day Indonesia, was one of the largest in recorded history resulting in major reductions in global temperatures. Volcanic ash and drops of sulfuric acid obscured the sun causing not only temp drops, but also food shortages. The strangeness of this dark year, combined with being stuck inside on a weekend away, led to the Shelley’s, reading a book of ghost stories, Fantasmagoriana, alongside the poet, Lord Byron. It was this book of ghost stories that would inspire the writing contest that would ultimately spur Mary Shelley to write Frankenstein.


Speaking of the Year Without A Summer…it was during this year of eery weather that a cooped up weekend sparked a writing competition between Mary Shelley, Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, and John Polidori. After reading Fantasmagoriana Lord Byron, suggested that the confined writers have a contest to see who among them could write the best ghost story. Although not technically a ghost story Frankenstein won, pioneering what we know as horror today. While Mary may have won the contest Polidori deserves some notoriety for writing The Vampyre as his entry, a lesser known story that would later inspire Bram Stoker to write Dracula.