Saturday, August 30, 2008


On those days when I can't find anything in particular to write about for the daily Tiddlywinkydink, I turn to the Toobworld timeline for inspiration. Today, I had nothing from my own collection for August 30th, so I decided to look into the history of the Real World instead.

And there I found out that today marks the anniversary of the birth of Mary Wollestonecraft Shelley, who - in the 1816 "Summer of Darkness" - wrote the novel which introduced the world to its most famous monster: the creature of Dr. Frankenstein.

In the novel "Frankenstein", Dr. Victor Frankenstein created only the one Monster. But in Toobworld, he was responsible for several different versions of the creature, and his counterparts in other TV dimensions made several more. The Frankenstein Monsters are members of the TV Crossover Hall of Fame because of the way they link the various TV productions in which they appear, including the sitcoms 'Struck By Lightning' and 'The Munsters'.

(From some background information on the novel found at the BBC: "It is frequently forgotten that the creature now thought of as Frankenstein – Boris Karloff's dumb, inarticulate beast – is massively removed from the sophisticated, sensitive creation of Mary Shelley, perfect in all but appearance.")

As for Mary Shelley, she belongs to a select group of authors who share their existence in Toobworld with their creations. Others in the same situation would include William Shakespeare, Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, and Stephen King. As far as the TV Universe is concerned, these writers share the same consideration as Conan Doyle by the fans of Sherlock Holmes - they didn't so much create their characters as they chronicled their "real-life" exploits".

Rather than going to Wikipedia as I usually do for information about a chosen topic, instead I have some factoids about Mary Shelley from the BBC:

Born in 1797, Mary was the daughter of William Godwin – a famous writer with
revolutionary ideas – and Mary Wollstonecraft, herself a writer and arguably the world's first feminist.

Her mother died days after giving birth to her – the first of many tragedies in Shelley's life. Some of these tragedies would later inspire events in "Frankenstein".

In 1812, Mary met the poet Percy Shelley. Percy and his wife Harriet were frequent visitors to the London home of Mary's father.

Mary ran off to France with Percy in 1814. She gave birth to his child in 1815 – but the baby died just 12 days later.

Harriet drowned herself in 1816, allowing Percy to marry Mary soon after. The general public was outraged.

After coming up with the idea for her novel in Switzerland, "Frankenstein" was published two years later in 1818 – Mary was still only 20.

Mary's second son, William, died aged three in 1821.

Percy drowned in 1822.

Mary and Percy's great friend, the writer and poet Lord Byron, died in 1824. Mary was devastated by this, and the loneliness caused by the death of so many of her friends and family. [Her sister also committed suicide.]

Mary died in 1851.

Although she wrote many other books, none matched the success of "Frankenstein".

Also from the BBC website:

Mary Shelley was born into a world of scientific, artistic and political
revolution. Her father and husband were famous radical thinkers and writers, and both of them (along with other important philosophers of the day) had a large influence on Mary and her novel.

One of her father's main ideas was that everyone should act only for the good of mankind; otherwise, selfishness would lead to the breakdown of society. This view influenced "Frankenstein" in that Victor largely thinks and acts only for himself, ignoring the wishes of the Monster (for example, by not creating a wife for it), thereby endangering mankind by giving it a reason to do harm. Victor is also a bad parent, deserving punishment for abandoning his creature.

Many people see this book as promoting the
revolutionary ideas that dominated the political world at the time, since Victor challenges authority (God) by creating life himself. The Monster is also revolutionary in its hostility towards authority (its 'father'). Yet both the Monster and Victor are punished with death – leading other people to conclude that Shelley is critical of political revolution.

When writing this book, Mary was influenced by the scientific revolution of the time. She had heard about one man, Galvani, who had supposedly re-animated dead tissue, and another, Aldini, who had wired up a criminal's corpse to a battery so that his jaw appeared to move and a fist to clench. Such discoveries were discussed at the holiday home of the Shelleys in the weeks before "Frankenstein" was written.

Mary Shelley was portrayed on TV several times:

Jenny Agutter (Mary Shelley) . . . Shelley (1972)

Sarah Allen (Mary Shelley) . . . Mary Shelley (2004)

Lucy Davenport (Mary Shelley) . . . Frankenstein: Birth of a Monster (2003)

Anne Delbée (Mary Shelley) . . . Byron libérateur de la Grèce ou Le jardin des héros (1973)

Sally Hawkins (Mary Shelley) . . . Byron (2003)

Cara Horgan (Mary Shelley) . . . "Romantics, The" (2006)

Tracy Keating (Mary Shelley) . . . "Highlander" (1992)
{The Modern Prometheus (#5.19)}

Vickie Papavs (Mary Shelley & Tara) . . . "Time Warp Trio" (2006)
{Nightmare on Joe's Street (#1.21)}

Emily Perkins (I) (Mary Shelley) . . . "Mentors" (1998)
{Transition (#4.5)}

Mary Scott (I) (Mary Shelley) . . . "Hallmark Hall of Fame" (1951)
{The Finest Gift}

[Note: The Mary Shelley who appeared in an episode of 'Alien Nation' was a Tenctonese refugee given that name by immigration officials who were havin' a laugh.]

One other show in which I would like to see Mary Shelley appear would be 'Doctor Who'. And if the current popularity of the series continues, that could be a possibility!

It seems as though the Doctor meets a famous English author in almost every season since the show's return in 2005 - Dickens, Shakespeare, Christie. I've always wanted to see the Doctor meet JRR Tolkien, who might find inspiration for the Ents after meeting Jabe's people from the Forests of Cheem; but Mary Shelley would be an excellent choice as well.

Just sayin', is all......

Pictured in this post as Mary Shelley is Lucy Davenport, from the BBC production "Frankenstein: Birth Of A Monster". But here's an additional treat from the Movie Universe:
Elsa Lanchester as Mary Shelley in "The Bride Of Frankenstein".

Toby O'B

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