August 2010 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Something About Mary

In honor of Mary Shelley's birthday today (she was born in 1797), here are a few goodies about Mary from Fine Books

Ian McKay's auction report from May of last year detailing a review copy of Frankenstein:
That very review copy of the 1818 first edition, the three volumes, bound as one in period calf, lacked the half-titles and advertisements and there was spotting throughout, but firsts of Frankenstein are rare beasts, and those shortcomings were in some way compensated for by its unusual provenance. It made £36,425 ($52,090).
Or, Ian McKay's auction report from February of this year featuring a letter from Percy Bysshe Shelley (Mary's husband) to their publisher, Lackington's, about the upcoming bestseller:
After proposing contractual terms and divisions of profits between author and publisher, Percy writes, "I cannot on the author's part disdain all interest in the first edition, because it is possible that there may be no demand for a second." How wrong he was to be proved! The Shelleys' profit on that first edition was modest, but nowadays the first is a very valuable book. A copy offered in the William Self library at Christie's New York on December 4 was bound as one volume in brown morocco gilt by Zaehnsdorf, and despite lacking half-titles and advertisements, managed $50,000, but others have made more.

Or, go to the Fine Books store, where you can check out the Centipede Press edition of Frankenstein, featuring the wood engravings of Lynd Ward.