Mary Shelley drafted Frankenstein in two tall notebooks. The first notebook was probably purchased in Geneva, the second several months later in England. They were later disbound, and now exist as single sheets. Shown here is an original opening from the Geneva notebook, containing Mary’s draft of the turning-point in the novel: the moment when Frankenstein’s Creature comes to life.
Mary’s original draft is accompanied throughout by Shelley’s corrections, revisions and additions. He amends awkward words and loose constructions (particularly in the early chapters), suggests word changes, and adds short passages. He appears to have corrected while Mary was composing, taking the notebook from her and revising her text perhaps chapter by chapter. His handwriting is sometimes not immediately distinguishable from Mary’s, but two changes can be seen on this page: nine lines from the bottom he has substituted ‘beautiful’ for ‘handsome’; three lines below that he has added the words ‘of a lustrous black &’ to Mary’s description of the Creature’s hair.
At some point the Frankenstein notebooks left Mary’s possession. They may have been among the papers left in England when she and Shelley left for Italy in 1818. They later came into the hands of a picture-cleaner called, by a remarkable coincidence, Godwin. Sometime before 1887 the remains of the notebooks (now disbound, and without their covers) were purchased by Sir Percy and Lady Shelley.
Mary Shelley; [...]; ‘a picture cleaner named Godwin’; Mr A.H. Bradford; (purchase, before 7 June 1887) Sir Percy and Lady Shelley; (bequest, 1889) Lady Shelley; (bequest, 1899) Shelley Scarlett (later 5th Baron Abinger) and/or Robert Scarlett (later 6th Baron Abinger); (bequest, 1917) Robert Scarlett, 6th Baron Abinger; (bequest, 1927) Hugh Scarlett, 7th Baron Abinger; (bequest, 1943) James Scarlett, 8th Baron Abinger; (bequest, 2002) James Scarlett, 9th Baron Abinger; (purchase, 2004) Bodleian.