The Modern Prometheus

Mary Shelley

Illustrated by Angela Barrett

Introduced by Richard Holmes

Relish the thrilling horror of Frankenstein in Folio’s stunning new edition. Mary Shelley's darkly disturbing tale is illustrated by Angela Barrett and newly introduced by Richard Holmes.

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There can be few books as well-known as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Adapted for stage, film and radio over 100 times, this chilling gothic tale is thought by some to be the very first science-fiction novel. Written in 1816, when Shelley was just 18, her story of a hideous monster of superhuman strength is indebted to contemporary scientific experiments and philosophical debates and is as thought-provoking as it is thrilling.

Artist Angela Barrett has contributed eight ominously unsettling illustrations for our edition. Created in series with her remarkable illustrations for Dracula, each one is full of foreboding and set within an elaborate hand-drawn black-and-white border. Nine vignettes represent further aspects of the story, and Barrett’s work is completed with a striking binding design. Award-winning biographer Richard Holmes has contributed an exclusive introduction focusing on the scientific influences and cultural repercussions of the novel.

Bound in blocked cloth

Set in Clifford with Operetta as display

232 pages

Frontispiece and 7 full-page colour illustrations with silver and black & white borders, 9 black & white vignettes

Ribbon marker

Coloured tops

Printed slipcase

10˝ x 6¾˝

‘I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs.’

In June 1816 four friends gathered at the Villa Diodati beside Lake Geneva in Switzerland, where, confined indoors during the ‘Year without a Summer’, they devised a ghost story competition for their entertainment. Mary Shelley, the youngest participant, contributed the astonishing tale of Victor Frankenstein, a student of natural philosophy who galvanises into life a creature out of bones collected from charnel houses. Possessed of human needs and emotions, and educated through books, the creature craves acceptance in society and demands a female companion. His creator’s defiant refusal to provide one provokes the terrifying denouement. Shelley unquestionably fulfilled her stated intention to create ‘a story to make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart’.

About Mary Shelley

English novelist Mary Shelley (1797–1851), was the daughter of political philosopher William Godwin and feminist campaigner Mary Wollstonecraft. Educated at home following her mother’s death when she was just days old, Shelley was tutored to a high level and met several of her father’s intellectual friends including Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Aged 16, she eloped to Italy with the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley whom she later married. Her best-known work, Frankenstein, was first published in 1818 and significantly revised by the author in 1831. Shelley returned to England after her husband’s death and continued to write novels, including The Last Man (1826, The Folio Society 2012), short stories and reviews, as well as promoting her husband’s work. She died in London on 1 February 1851 aged 53.

About Angela Barrett

Angela Barrett is a writer and illustrator – using watercolour, gouache, coloured pencils and ink – who studied at Maidstone College of Art and the Royal College of Art. She has illustrated a number of picture books and children’s novels and is particularly well known for her work on fairy tales. One of Britain’s most respected illustrators of children’s books, she is the winner of a WH Smith Illustration Award and a Smarties Prize, and has been shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal. Barrett has taught illustration at Cambridge College of Technology and drawing at Chelsea College of Arts. She has illustrated Dracula and Anna Karenina for The Folio Society.

About Richard Holmes

Richard Holmes is an award-winning British author best known for his biographical studies of major figures of British and French Romanticism. His books include the classic Footsteps (1985) and its companion volume Sidetracks (2000); Shelley: The Pursuit, which won the Somerset Maugham Prize in 1974; Coleridge: Early Visions, which won the 1989 Whitbread Biography of the Year; Coleridge: Darker Reflections, winner of both the Duff Cooper Prize and the Heinemann Award in 1998; The Age of Wonder (2008; The Folio Society 2015) which was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize and won the Royal Society Prize for Science Books (UK) and the National Book Critics Circle Award (USA); Falling Upwards: How We Took to the Air (2013), which inspired the feature film The Aeronauts (Amazon, 2019); and This Long Pursuit: Reflections of a Romantic Biographer (2017). Holmes is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a Fellow of the British Academy and an Honorary Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge. He was awarded the OBE in 1992, and in 2014 the Biographers’ Club Prize for Lifetime Services to Biography.


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