The world of phantasmagoria

research compiled by Leigh Hurwitz

A rainy night in a Genevan castle. Debauched poetry and too much wine. A teenage girl writes a spooky story. On the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s creation, Frankenstein; or the Modern PrometheusPhantasmagoria assembles a swirl of puppetry, biography, and storytelling into a market of ghosts…The dead walk among us.


Biographies of key characters

Mary Shelley, patron saint of brash girl writers
Claire Clairmont, a polymath & Mary’s stepsister
Percy Bysshe Shelley, a less famous poet
Lord Byron, a more famous poet

Doctor Polidori, Byron’s personal physician & lover

Victor Frankenstein, a college student
Henry Clerval, a real gentleman

Captain Walton, a failed poet
Sweet Elizabeth, the woman who waits

A list of articles, digital archives, and books relevant to Phantasmagoria, including Mary Shelley’s writings, biographical information about the Romantics, and a survey of the period in general, can be found by following this link


Source texts and related writings

“I suspect your master is a Chemist, or dare I say, an Alchemist!” 
Presumption, or The Fate of Frankenstein, Richard Brinsley Peake (the hit play of 1832!)

Check out our selected bibliography of sources focusing on such alchemical influences on Frankenstein as Agrippa (some of his writings, particularly Declamation on the Nobility and Preeminence of the Female Sex and writings on magic);  Albertus Magnus (his writing on the Philosopher’s Stone, transmutation of metals, and astrology; particularly how life on earth mirrors actions in the cosmos); Paracelsus (specifically his ideas about all matter being made up of mercury, salt, and sulphur); and some general information about alchemy and magic.

Each source has a link to either a downloadable full-text pdf, a link to a public library catalog record, or a link to a Google Books preview.