The True Author of Frankenstein
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This year is the bicentennial of Frankenstein, the seminal novel of English Romanticism; it was published anonymously on January 1, 1818. Here I'll describe how I, as an independent scholar, disrupted a cherished feminist narrative. I made the case that the true author is Percy Bysshe Shelley, not his second wife, Mary.
My book, The Man Who Wrote Frankenstein (Pagan Press, 2007), was not the first to reject Mary Shelley's authorship. Before me there was Phyllis Zimmerman (Shelley's Fiction, 1998) and long before both of us there were Sir Walter Scott (1818) and an anonymous reviewer of Valperga (1824), an historical novel by Mary Shelley.
At Harvard I studied English literature and then switched to Social Relations, a radically interdisciplinary department comprising psychology, anthropology, and sociology. After graduation in 1963 I worked as a market research executive, while engaged in political activism (antiwar and gay rights movements) and writing on the side. After retirement I...