First published in The Times, Thursday April 27 2017
The tale of how Mary Shelley came up with the idea for Frankenstein in a waking dream while staying at Lake Geneva in the summer of 1816 is almost as familiar as the plot of the novel itself. Less well known is the author’s connection with the city of Dundee, where the 14-year-old Shelley (née Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin) spent several months recuperating from illness in 1812.
First published in The Times, Friday February 10 2017
The iconic status of Mary Shelley’s creation is mainly thanks to a Hollywood makeup artist named Jack Pierce. He dreamt up the image of the flat-topped monster with bolts in his neck, made immortal by Boris Karloff in James Whale’s 1931 film adaption, that has long eclipsed the “shrivelled complexion and straight black lips” of the creature in the original novel.
As Mary Shelley would testify were she here today, some fictional ideas are so strong that they take on a life of their own that even their creator can’t control. A case in point is David Almond’s story, The Savage. Initially conceived as a short monologue for television, the poignant tale of a teenage boy grieving for his dead father kept tugging at its author’s sleeve, demanding that he expand the original idea, first into a novel, and now into a compelling piece of drama.