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ExhibitionThe Birth of Frankenstein

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  • A 3-story house next to a lake with a sailboat in the water and a man reclined in a garden.
    Diodati, The Residence of Lord Byron, 1833

    Diodati, The Residence of Lord Byron, 1833

    Artist: William Purser (ca. 1790–ca. 1852)
    Engraver: Edward Finden (1791–1857)
    Courtesy HathiTrust

    During a gathering at the Villa Diodati, Lord Byron proposed to his guests the famous ghost-story competition that produced Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Polidori’s The Vampyre.

  • Portrait of a man in a red jacket, looking to his right with chin resting on his right hand.
    George Gordon, 6th Lord Byron, 1813

    George Gordon, 6th Lord Byron, oil on canvas, 1813

    Artist: Richard Westall (1765–1836)
    Courtesy © National Portrait Gallery, London

    A British Romantic poet and political liberal, Lord Byron entertained the Shelley party during the wet, uncongenial summer of 1816. During that time, he and Percy Bysshe Shelley engaged in extended conversations about the “principle of life,” to which Mary Shelley was a silent listener.

  • Portrait of a young man in a black garment with a white collar, looking forward.
    Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1819

    Percy Bysshe Shelley, oil on canvas, 1819

    Artist: Amelia Curran (1775–1847)
    Courtesy © National Portrait Gallery, London

    One of the leading British Romantic poets and a political radical, Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822) was expelled from Oxford University for a scandalous broadside on atheism. He wrote the preface for the first edition of Frankenstein (1818).