Frankenstein is basically responsible for the genre of science fiction, has seared our collective cultural imagination, has inspired countless monster movies ('s among them), Halloween costumes, parodies, TV characters (think shows like and ), and achieved all-around legend status.
Let's back up for a second: Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin wasn't just any eighteen-year-old. She was the daughter of two seriously smart people: , who wrote basically the first work of English feminism ever (not to mention a bunch of political philosophy about human rights in general); and , an atheist, anarchist, and radical who wrote novels and essays attacking conservatism and the aristocracy (and whose Caleb Williams probably influenced Frankenstein). Just imagine their dinner table conversations.
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The result was Frankenstein, a horror story about what happens when one man's desire for scientific discovery and immortality goes horribly wrong—and what happens to society's outcasts. With Percy's support (and the help of his extensive vocabulary, whether she asked for it or not), she expanded her short story into a novel and published it in 1818.