Texas astronomer Donald Olson says the “Frankenstein shining moon” account Mary Shelley used to sell her book actually existed, going against what other critics said was nothing but a made up story to sell her novel.
Shelley had claimed that she wrote her book one night in 1816 when during a “waking dream” moon shone through her window.
Speaking to Reuters Olson said:
“Some scholars are very skeptical, they even call her a liar,” while adding, “But we see no reason, either in the science or in the primary sources, to doubt Mary Shelley’s account.”
Shelley at the time of writing the novel was staying at Villa Diodati in Switzerland in June of 1816 with future husband Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, Claire Clairmont and John Polidori.
Olson says it was Shelley’s account of the moon that helped verify her story:
“We verified when the moon would have shone on her window, which is when she first came up with the idea for the story we know as Frankenstein.”
To verify the story the astronomer and his team performed “extensive topographic measurements of the terrain” at Villa Diodati and then examined the weather records for June of 1816. Olson says while it is normally wet and cloudy during that time in the region it was actually a “bright night” with a “gibbous moon” which would have led to the moon’s light shining through her window at approximately 2 a.m. on June 16.
Regardless of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein Moon” story her book still remains one of the most celebrated monster stories of all time, spawning various movies and updated versions of her work.