A signed copy of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has been discovered in what was left of Lord Byron’s library.
Eighteen year old Mary Shelley and her husband took a trip to Switzerland in 1816, where they were challenged by Lord Byron to write a horror story. While they were there Mary had a vivid daydream where she envisioned a creature that would inspire her tale of the Postmodern Prometheus:
“When I placed my head on my pillow, I did not sleep, nor could I be said to think. My imagination, unbidden, possessed and guided me, gifting the successive images that arose in my mind with a vividness far beyond the usual bounds of reverie. I saw — with shut eyes, but acute mental vision, — I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion.”
This freaky daydream became Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, which was published almost 2 years later.
The copy given to Lord Byron by Mary Shelley, and signed by the author herself, was discovered by the grandson of politician Lord Jay while he was archiving papers.
Lord Jay’s grandson, Sammy, explained:
“I saw the book lying at an angle in the corner of the top shelf. On opening it, I saw the title page, recognised what it was at once and leafed hungrily through the text – it was only when I flicked idly back to the first blank that I saw the inscription in cursive black ink, “To Lord Byron, from the author.”
Today this inscribed copy is on display at Peter Harrington‘s, a London specialist in rare books. And there it will be put on auction, and may fetch up to $575,000.