Mary Shelley – then Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin – stayed in Clifton, Bristol in July and part of August 1815. One biographer suggests the idea for Frankenstein may have been partly inspired by what she learned about the slave trade and emancipation during her time in the city. She wrote significant parts of the novel while she was living in Bath the following year (read Sheila Hannon’s blog on her research for the Frankenstein in Bath guided walk).
For Bristol800 we celebrated Mary Shelley and Frankenstein with three performances of a new play starring Julian Rhind-Tutt; a panel discussion and lecture on Shelley and her work; examinations of revolutionary science, the cultural impact of automation and living like a beast; a look at Frankenstein on film; and a debate on the science and ethics of today’s ‘Frankenstein technology’.
In addition six poets were commissioned to write a new poem each on the theme of Shelley’s novel. The poets were John Burnside, Kathleen Jamie, Vanessa Kisuule, Helen Mort, Fiona Sampson and Adam Thorpe. Some of the poems were read by the poets for the first time at events over the weekend.
You can hear audio recordings of all the events, excluding the play, below.
The image of Frankenstein’s monster used to publicise the weekend was specially commissioned from Alys Jones.