The original Dr. Frankenstein in Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel “Frankenstein” is said to be based on another scientist, with a similar last name: Benjamin Franklin.


In his day, Benjamin Franklin was referred to as a modern Prometheus; thus, the exact title of Shelley’s novel is indeed, “Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus.”

Courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment

The Frankenstein monster, as did Benjamin Franklin, represents something new that was created out of remnants: while the monster’s remnants were parts of bodies, Franklin’s was the remnants of the old world in England.

Also, like Dr. Frankenstein, Benjamin Franklin did indeed work with electricity; his experiments with electricity led other scientists to take it steps further, including animating dead animal tissue. So it's very possible that the connection from Franklin to Frankenstein is true.

If Mary Shelley actually did base her tale on Franklin, we may never know for sure. I wonder if she considered calling her novel "Franklinstein"? Sounds punny but you never coulda been considered by Shelley.


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