The monster from the book “Frankenstein” is named “Frankenstein.”

Don’t Believe That!

How did the eruption of a volcano in Indonesia result in the creation of the most famous monster of all time? Read on…

In the summer of 1816, poet Lord Byron invited a small group to his house in Switzerland, including writer Mary Godwin and her soon-to-be-husband Percy Shelley. The weather was unseasonably cold and dreary that year; the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia had filled the atmosphere with dust, blocking out much of the sun’s rays.

Unable to properly enjoy any outdoor activities, the group spent their time reading ghost stories and challenging each other to see who could come up with the scariest. One evening, Mary dreamed of a corpse that returned to life, an idea she quickly turned into a short story. Over the next year, the short story had become a full novel.

Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus was published in 1818. The “Frankenstein” being compared to the Greek mythological character Prometheus in the title is Dr. Victor Frankenstein; the monster he created in the book is never named. Victor alternatively refers to his creation as “the creature” or “the demon.” In an 1823 stage adaptation, the monster was credited simply as “- -“.

Though the story was first filmed in 1910 (by Thomas Edison!), it was popularized in the 1931 Universal Studios film featuring Boris Karloff. Movie posters featuring the reanimated monster and the word “Frankenstein” probably began the public association of this name with the creature.

Bonus Fact #1: The grunting, green skin movie monster is nothing like the sensitive and intelligent book version, who had yellow skin and spoke long, eloquent monologues.

Bonus Fact #2: Dr. Frankenstein’s assistant Igor is not in the novel, and in fact is called Fritz, not Igor, in the 1931 film!


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