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Mother of Sci-Fi

Frankenstein is an 1818 novel written by Mary Shelley. It tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who succeeds in giving life to a being of his own creation. However, this is not the perfect specimen he imagines, but a hideous monster who is rejected by Victor and mankind in general.

This project celebrates Mary Shelleys title "Mother of Sci-fi" by exploring her life and the recurring themes of Frankenstein. 


Mary Shelley’s publication, Frankenstein, resonated with me due to its multiple themes of alienation, monstrosity, and dangerous knowledge. My objective was to delve deeper into the symbolism within her writing, with an aim to uncover Mary Shelley’s life and what shaped this narrative.

In my research, I was instantly drawn in by Mary Shelley’s life. Being the daughter of two influential figures in she was destined for greatness. However, her childhood was sad and filled with tragedy. By the age of 16, Mary believed herself to be cursed, that was her age when she wrote Frankenstein.
Upon reading Frankenstein, I noticed threads from Mary Shelley’s life were intertwined throughout Frankenstein. Shelley’s influences and symbolism throughout the book stood out to me. Among my findings I discovered Mary was the first female author to explore the dangers of playing with the unknown sciences of her era, which makes her the ‘Mother of Sci-fi’. My aim is to celebrate this title by taking the reader on a journey into the mind of Mary Shelley.

Target Audience

The target audience consists of Sci-Fi and gothic horror fans. Feminists would find this document interesting because Mary Shelley and her mother helped pave the future for women’s education and literature. People who are interested in Frankenstein and Shelley’s life would also find this document interesting and educational.


Some critics call the publication “monstrous”, a stitched together combination of different texts, voices, and tenses, which made me wish to capture its essence by designing something similar. Frankenstein consists of three volumes, therefore, I decided to construct three sections, but refer to them as volumes. Volume one narrates the life of Mary Shelley. Volume two exhibits the characters, inspirations, themes, and symbolism from the book. Volume three explores how the book was perceived after publication and how it shaped the world after.


The document is designed in a style that resembles an old-style research journal, with sketches and hand drawn notes scattered throughout. The graphic language consists of multiple dashed lines, crop marks and drawings of loose thread to demonstrate that the book, just like the monster, was cut up and stitched together. The stitch marks also resemble how Mary Shelley’s life is interwoven throughout the story and how her threads continue to be woven into pop culture two hundred years after she published Frankenstein. This is also why I hand stitched the books binding myself. The typefaces I chose are Tuppence and Niveau Grotesk. Both typefaces were inspired by 19th century typography, which is the era Frankenstein was written. I also used my handwriting to shift the tone, giving it a raw, emotional, and handmade feeling.

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