“Frankenstein Day. What’s that?” I hear you ask. To answer your question, it’s a day that celebrates the birthday of Frankenstein’s author, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, born on 30th August 1797. There are other Frankenstein Days, but none of these are really official – one even happens to fall on 31st October (Halloween), which is when the first popular edition of Frankenstein was published in 1831.
The story was originally published on March 11th, 1818, but many prefer to honour Frankenstein Day on Mary Shelley’s birthday. There is a Frankenstein Friday, which also takes place on the last Friday of October, and may actually be the same holiday as the other late-October Frankenstein Day. Frankenstein Friday was invented in 1997 by Ron MacCloskey from Westfield, New Jersey, who is the largest collector in the world of vintage Frankenstein and Boris Karloff memorabilia and writer of the documentary, Karloff and Me (2006).
To be fair, though, Mary Shelley’s birthday isn’t an official holiday, either. For many, it’s the chance to celebrate the works of one of the first ever science-fiction and horror writers. Oh, and it gives us the chance to celebrate Halloween a little earlier than usual, which makes it a great dress rehearsal!
There are, of course, other ways to celebrate Frankenstein Day without it needing to be a slightly toned-down version of Halloween. You could do a reading of Frankenstein (or indeed one of her other books, like The Last Man) at your local pub or library. You could also have a Frankenstein-themed party over the bank holiday weekend to show your love for this genre-defining writer.
How else can you celebrate Frankenstein Day? Well, as it’s a bank holiday weekend, a good old film marathon is a perfect way to celebrate Mary Shelley’s b-day. There are lots of great film adaptations of Frankenstein, and there probably isn’t a better one than the 1931 version starring the legendary Boris Karloff. The follow-up, The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), is equally as good, although some would claim it is even better! The fact that this time of year in the UK tends to be wet, windy and stormy only adds to the atmosphere.
Should you wish to add to the stormy atmosphere, you could do what Mary Shelley and her friends would do on nights like these: tell ghost stories. Indeed, it was Shelley’s telling of scary supernatural stories with her friends – which included illustrious company like Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley (Mary’s husband) and John Polidori, who wrote one of the first modern vampire stories with The Vampyre – that inspired the creation of Frankenstein. So who knows? Telling scary stories might just well help foment the creation of a best-selling novel and/or a blockbuster movie.
To tell the honest truth, there aren’t many huge celebrations surrounding Frankenstein Day. They are perhaps overtaken by the magnitude of Notting Hill Carnival and the various festivals going on over the bank holiday weekend. Frankly, Frankenstein Day doesn’t sound as exciting to many people. However, for those of us who like life having a slightly more literary bent and who want to either avoid the bank holiday madness or like to mix-and-match big nights out with smaller ones, Frankenstein Day could well be heaven-sent. Check out our range of Frankenstein costumes here: