He Lives! Frankenstein in the Rubenstein

Scary, but true: the Rubenstein’s Hinton Collection of Plays contains what’s believed to be the first published image of Frankenstein’s Creature (or “Monster,” if you’re feeling pejorative).  Are you ready to face the horror?

 

Now that you’ve recovered from the shock, you’ll be interested to know that this image is of the actor Richard John O. Smith portraying the Creature in an 1826 stage adaptation of Shelley’s novel by Henry Milner.  The Hinton Collection also contains a prompt book for Milner’s play as produced at the Theatre Royal in Birmingham, England, probably in the 1830s. The image below shows the page of the prompt book for the Creature’s awakening, with the inserted dialogue “He lives / He lives”:

This echoes the line “It lives! It lives!” from the first stage adaptation of Frankenstein, R. B. Peake’s wildly successful 1823 play Presumption (you can find an edition of this in the Hinton Collection, as well), and prefigures perhaps the most famous scene in horror cinema.

Adaptations and reimaginings of the story of Frankenstein continue to proliferate today.  See these and many more chilling items, including an issue of Frankenstein Comics from the 1940s, at the Haunted Library Screamfest from 11am-1pm today!

Post contributed by Will Hansen, Assistant Curator of Collections.




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