Frankenstein Friday, which is on the last Friday in October, falling on October 29 this year, was created to celebrate Mary Shelley and her famous novel “Frankenstein” (also named “The Modern Prometheus”). Mary Shelley’s creation spawned an entire genre, countless movie adaptations, and widespread recognition, and from the spooky October month comes another fun celebration. Frankenstein Friday aims to immortalize and honor this monster of a book right around the time the U.S. celebrates another scary holiday.
History of Frankenstein Friday
Human history has never been without monsters. Myths, folktales, epic stories have all had a monster or two, even tales from ancient civilizations like the Aztecs or Incas. While appearances and characteristics might differ, these monsters have appeared across cultures. Of these, Frankenstein’s monster is one of the best-known of all time.
In 1816, Mary Shelley, wife of poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, to visit their friend, poet Lord Byron, at Villa Diodati. The group also consisted of physician John Polidori. A volcano erupted in Indonesia causing severe rain and climate abnormalities, meaning the group was stuck inside the house where they read ghost stories to pass the time. Lord Byron subsequently proposed a competition to see who could come up with the best ghost story. Mary Shelley won this contest with “Frankenstein”; Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley did not finish their stories, but Polidori wrote the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”, “The Vampyre”. “Frankenstein” was anonymously published two years after when Mary was only 20 years old. The dedication in the very first edition was to William Godwin, Mary Shelley’s father. Percy Shelley wrote the preface, which is why many people assumed he wrote the book. Shelley republished it under her own name in 1823, with a third edition coming eight years later that explained how the story came to be. This final version is what most readers are familiar with today. The story spawned editions upon editions of prints in every language, and countless movie adaptations, over almost two centuries.
While Shelley always maintained she came up with the name of ‘Frankenstein’ (meaning ‘Stone of the Franks’) herself, critics believe she was influenced by a castle with the same name. The castle’s previous inhabitant was one Konrad Dippel, an unbalanced alchemist obsessed with creating an elixir that would help people live for over a hundred years. It was rumored that he dug up bodies and experimented on them, just like Victor Frankenstein in Shelley’s book.
Ryan MacCloskey from Westfield, New Jersey, founded Frankenstein Friday in 1997 to celebrate the characters, the book, and the author. He chose Friday for the celebrations because of the fun alliteration it makes with Frankenstein. Plus, he says, it is easier to be festive on a Friday than any other day.
Frankenstein Friday timeline
Mary Shelley, along with husband Percy Shelley, poet Lord Byron, and others, compete to write the best ghost story while on a trip in Switzerland, and she comes up with the idea for “Frankenstein.”
“Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus” is published anonymously — people believe the poet, Percy Shelley, is the author because he wrote the preface, and the first 500 copies sell out.
Richard Brinsley Peake writes a play based on the book, cementing its popularity, and Mary Shelley attends the play in London, the only adaptation of “Frankenstein” she would ever see.
“Frankenstein” is published again, in two volumes, this time under the real author's name — Mary Shelley.
Thomas Edison makes one of the very first horror movies — a one-reel, 15-minute film of “Frankenstein” — which is lost and only recovered in the 1950s.
Ryan MacCloskey creates Frankenstein Friday, and it has been celebrated ever since.
Frankenstein Friday FAQs
Why did Frankenstein kill himself?
Dr. Frankenstein made a creature that eventually killed him. It was only after the creature saw Frankenstein dead that it regretted its actions and killed itself.
What is the best Frankenstein adaptation?
“The Guardian” ranks the following movies as the best Frankenstein adaptations: “The Bride of Frankenstein” (1935), “The Curse of Frankenstein” (1957), “Young Frankenstein” (1974), and “Frankenstein” (1931).
What were Frankenstein's last words?
“I shall ascend my funeral pile triumphantly and exult in the agony of the torturing flames. The light of that conflagration will fade away; my ashes will be swept into the sea by the winds. My spirit will sleep in peace, or if it thinks, it will surely think thus. Farewell.”
Is Frankenstein real?
Victor Frankenstein is one of the first fictitious ‘mad scientists,’ but he was based on real-life doctors, researchers, and scientists.
How To Celebrate Frankenstein Friday
Read the book that spawned it all
Read the original version of “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley, then read the newer editions. If movies are more your style, watch one of the various movie adaptations starting as far back as 1931.
Get to know Mary Shelley
Check out her biography and read her other works like “The Last Man” and “Falkner”. You can take the cinematic route again by watching the 2018 film “Mary Shelley”.
Host a Frankenstein party
Dress up like the characters from the book, play trivia games, or even conduct little science experiments. Make (or order) Frankenstein-themed food, like cakes in the shape of the lead characters, 'dead' chicken fingers, and so on. Since it is close to Halloween, you can merge the two parties and have a spooky, Frankenstein monster-themed night.
5 Fun Facts About Frankenstein
The monster has no name
People often refer to the creature in the book or movie as ‘Frankenstein’ when, in reality, the monster is referred to as ‘monster,’ ‘creature,’ ‘demon,’ and ‘it.’
There are multiple Frankenstein days
Other Frankenstein-themed events include National Frankenstein Day and Frankenstein Day.
The first book reviews were not kind
When the book first came out in 1818, many critics bashed it, but because gothic novels were popular in that period, it soon sailed to the top of the 'to read' list.
It was the first sci-fi novel
Many think “Frankenstein” is the very first science fiction novel, and through it, Mary Shelley also invented the concept of a 'mad scientist' and helped establish the horror fiction genre too.
The monster as we know it
James Whale's 1931 movie, “Frankenstein”, is responsible for the image of the creature we all have in our heads today — square-headed, heavy eyelids, and bolts in its neck.
Why We Love Frankenstein Friday
Frankenstein is a classic
Horror. Tragedy. Science Fiction. The popularity of this book transcends generations and cultures. The topics and themes it addresses — concerns about the powers and dangers of intelligence — endure even today.
The author is awesome too
By all accounts (including her own letters), Mary Shelley had a lively and often dramatic life, which has its own attraction. Even the story of how the book came to be is incredible.
We love being spooked
Especially during Halloween, we love the rush of being creeped out of our minds. This is precisely why this day falls at the perfect time!
Frankenstein Friday dates