Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

6 May

For my Archeology of the Book class, I’m writing a research paper about the book The Original Frankenstein, which includes the two earliest surviving drafts of Frankenstein. One is a rough draft by Mary alone, and the other is edited by Percy Shelley, just like editors edit author’s work today. Both The Original Frankenstein and The Frankenstein Notebooks–facsimiles of the surviving earliest draft–are edited by Charles E. Robinson.

It’s disturbing to read about how people–not only nineteenth-century reviewers but even late twentieth-century scholars and twenty-first century blog commenters–have dismissively claimed or suggested that Percy rather than Mary was the primary author. It reminds me of when I was a teenager and got a story published in the school newspaper for the first time: some students gushed about my writing, but at least one classmate said, “Your brother wrote that story!” I felt deeply offended and unappreciated, especially since all my life I had been bombarded
with the message that my brother is so intelligent and I’m stupid. Both situations show dismissiveness toward a teenager girl, probably because she’s young and female. Give credit where credit is due. Fortunately, The Frankenstein Notebooks shows Mary Shelley’s own handwriting and proves that she was the author and that Percy was the editor.

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