“THE MOST FAMOUS ENGLISH HORROR NOVEL”
SHELLEY, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea & Blanchard, 1833. Two volumes. Large 12mo, half rose-colored cloth and drab paper boards, traces of original printed paper spine labels, uncut and partially unopened. Housed together in a custom chemise and clamshell box.
Very scarce first American edition of Mary Shelley’s masterpiece of horror, an exceptional uncut copy in original boards. Complete with all half titles.
Shelley was just 19 when she wrote her classic novel. The circumstances of its composition are by now well known: Mary was in Switzerland with Percy Shelley, Byron, and Byron’s physician John Polidori on that famous evening in 1816 when the discussion turned to one of Shelley’s favorite topics, the supernatural. Byron proposed that all members of the party write a romance or tale dealing with the subject. The resulting efforts were Polidori’s The Vampyre, Byron’s unfinished narrative about a vampire, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, “the most famous English horror novel… a defining model of the Gothic mode of fiction, and… the first genuine science fiction novel, the first significant rendering of the relations between mankind and science through an image of mankind’s dual nature appropriate to an age of science” (Clute and Nicholls, Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, 1099). At base, the novel is one of creative powers gone wrong-a subject of paramount concern to Mary Shelley, as her own mother had died as a result of Shelley’s birth, and the year before writing Frankenstein, she lost her own daughter, Clare. The London first edition, published anonymously in 1818, is exceedingly rare. At the time of this first American edition, the novel was receiving newfound attention. An 1831 edition was published in London, for which Shelley wrote an introduction describing the circumstances surrounding the creation of the work. This copy complete with the rarely found half titles, four pages of publisher’s advertisements at the front of Vol. I and the 23-page publisher’s catalogue at the rear of Vol. II. Contemporary inscriptions in each volume dated the year following publication: “Presented to his afft. sister, J.W. Pearce, March 1st, 1834.”
Text generally fresh with light scattered foxing, very faint occasional marginal dampstaining, slight edge-wear, some loss to spine labels, tiny bit of loss to to cloth of spine end (II). A most scarce copy, uncut and in original boards, in extremely good condition.