It's hard to imagine a more iconic image than Frankenstein, yet when Mary Shelley wrote her novel it was as part of a challenge among two couples on the run from England.
You may know the story: In 1816, Lord Byron, the romantic poet, along with his friend and poet Percy Shelly and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin, a publisher, lived together in Switzerland. Also along was Mary's step-sister, Claire, who was in love with Byron. They were all getting away from England for sundry reasons, legal, romantic, family.
They rented next-door houses on Lake Geneva (Lac Leman) in Switzerland and spent evenings together at their Villa Diodati.
One rainy June evening, Byron suggested they all write ghost stories. It was a passing challenge, but Mary kept at hers and once they parted ways ... Byron published his effort as Childe Harold and the other book, the one by 21-year old girl, became Frankenstein.
Percy Shelley drowned in 1818, Lord Byron died fighting in the Greek War of Independence in 1820. Mary Shelley died in 1851.
AHEAD: More on the monster and the author Shelley