If the sight of storm clouds gathering over Lake Geneva puts you in a dark and ponderous mood, then you have an idea of Mary Shelley's frame of mind when she conceived the story that would become her seminal work. While Shelley wrote several historical novels and travel books, it was this macabre story of a grotesque creature that made her legacy.
Today and every final Friday of October is Frankenstein Friday, a celebration of Shelley's 1818 novel about a doctor who reanimates the dead—a tale of terror that many also think of as the first science fiction novel. Shelley concocted the concept for 'Frankenstein' (aka 'The Modern Prometheus') here at Lake Geneva in the northern Alps on the French-Swiss border. She spent an unusually cold and wet summer here in 1816 with her future husband Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron, both poets. Confined indoors, the group challenged one another to come up with ghost stories. Mary quickly wrote the short story that would become 'Frankenstein,' inspired in no small part by the gloom and chill of Lake Geneva on one dark and stormy night.