School of English to breathe new life into ‘Frankenstein’ this Halloween

Posted on: 23 October 2018

Trinity College Dublin will join with around 700 worldwide institutions in a marathon public reading of the iconic novel Frankenstein this Halloween to mark the 200th anniversary of the publication of one of literature’s most enduring gothic tales.

Mary Shelley’s 1818 classic novel Frankenstein tells the tale of a young idealistic scientist who employs electricity and a patchwork of graveyard corpses to create a new life. The novel draws upon the Gothic novel tradition and is also regarded by many as the first work of science fiction. It has gone on to inspire countless adaptations and interpretations in literature, film, and popular culture. Beyond that, though, 200 years after the book’s publication, its themes of scientific responsibility and ethics, nurture versus nature, and its exploration of humanity itself have never been more relevant.

Victor Frankenstein observing the first stirrings of his creature. Engraving by W. Chevalier after Th. von Holst, 1831. Credit: Wellcome Collection

This October Trinity’s School of English is participating in the international Frankenreads Festival, led by the Keats-Shelley Association of America, which aims to encourage modern audiences to re-engage with the iconic novel.  The School is encouraging all college staff and students to read the novel and will be giving away 200 copies of the book, including one copy to all first-year English students, to spark a campus-wide discussion.

The initiative will culminate on Wednesday, October 31st when staff and students will come together to read this thrilling novel from start to finish. Members of the public are also invited to participate in the 8-hour marathon public reading which will take place from 10.15 am until 6pm in the Graduate Memorial Building. Fancy dress is encouraged and there will be spot prizes for the most festive Frankencostumes! See more here:

The following night, Thursday, November 1st, 2018, Trinity’s gothic and horror expert, Professor Darryl Jones, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences will deliver a lecture on “Frankenstein at 200 followed by a screening of the National Theatre Live 2011 sell-out production of Frankenstein, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the Creature in the Burke Lecture Theatre at 6pm-9.30pm. This event is now booked out.

Speaking about the continued relevance of the novel, Professor Jones said: “After 200 years, Mary Shelley’s creature captivates the public imagination in ways its creator could hardly have imagined.  Through the figure of the Monster, Frankenstein asks probing questions about parenthood and childbirth, the ethics and limits of scientific investigation, and what it means to be human, with which we continue to wrestle. It’s alive!”

Trinity will join 700 worldwide institutions in a marathon public reading of the iconic novel Frankenstein to mark the 200th anniversary of the publication of the book.

Dr Clare Clarke, Assistant Professor of the School of English, and organiser of the College’s Frankenreads initiative said of the novel: “Frankenstein is a universal tale of the tragedy that ensues when science is not tempered by humanity.  And so, in the 200th anniversary of its publication, it is more important than ever that not only students of English, but readers of all kinds, revisit the debut novel of a prodigious 18-year-old, a tale which combines tragedy, morality, social commentary and an examination of what it is to be human.”

The Trinity Frankenreads initiative is hosted by the School of English, in collaboration with the Trinity Long Room Hub, the Dean of Research, and the Faculty of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. More details on all the School’s Frankenreads events and initiatives are available here: