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Welcome to Biblion: Frankenstein

Biblion: Frankenstein

The Afterlife of Shelley’s Circle

What makes a monster? What is it like living on the margins of society? Is technology inherently good or bad? These questions guided Mary Shelley 200 years ago as she wrote her classic novel Frankenstein — they remain just as relevant today. The second edition of Biblion explores the connections between Shelley’s time and our own, showing how the classics resonate throughout society and the breadth of NYPL’s offerings.

New York Public Editions
Shelley’s Ghost

Percy Bysshe Shelley was but one prominent member of a celebrated literary family. His second wife, Mary, wrote one of the most lasting novels of the early 19th century, Frankenstein. Her parents, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, were central figures in the English Enlightenment. The exhibition Shelley’s Ghost tells the remarkable — sometimes salacious — tale of this extraordinary circle of people with artifacts from The New York Public Library’s Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle and the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, in England.


Few works of Romantic literature have captured the public imagination as forcefully as Mary Shelley’s first novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. Structured around the struggle between its protagonist, Victor Frankenstein, and the far more sympathetic antihero, the unnamed Creature, the tale embodies the power of myth while portraying the latest scientific research of the day. Whether one reads the novel, or experiences the story through the changing persona of the Creature through stage and screen, its themes remain fresh some two centuries later.

Creation & Remix

Frankenstein’s Creature was, at a superficial level, a remix of body parts: a new creation assembled from things that had come before. The spark of life or creation, the mutability of creation, and remix leading to new creations, can be seen throughout Shelley’s circle and how their works continue to inspire today.


Radical. Lover. Atheist. Poet. These are just a few of the words that describe Percy Bysshe Shelley, but he wasn’t alone in his uncommon ideals and outsider status. Many of the writers in his circle — Mary Shelley, the anarchist philosopher William Godwin, and the proto-feminist Mary Wollstonecraft — proposed radical ideas, including equality among the sexes and races, now taken for granted. How did these outsiders become insiders? See how their contributions to revolution and rebellion resonate with people who remain on the outside of society today.