Sun 26 Jun | 11:45 – 12:45pm
Surely the most influential literary contest of all time took place two hundred years ago, on 16th June 1816. Lord Byron challenged the members of his house-party in Switzerland to write a ghost story. Out of this challenge came both the first vampire story in literature, written by Byron’s doctor John Polidari − and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. One of the most widely-read novels in all English literature, Frankenstein’s twin archetypes − the mad scientist and the terrifying half-human he creates − are so influential they have become clichés. Astonishingly, they were dreamt up by a teenager. Fiona Sampson asks who she was, and also who she became, as romantic exile gave way to social opprobrium, the loss of three children, and early widowhood. How did she find the courage to continue? And what does she tell us about the life of a woman writer today?
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