Contemporary Reviews

The reviews of Frankenstein that were published between 1818 and 1832 give the reader an opportunity to experience the flavor and the biases of early-nineteenth-century reviewing—and to determine how careful and clever the reviewers were in their judgments. The biases were often those of the magazines: the Quarterly Review, for example, was a Tory and Anglican and conservative periodical. Almost all of the reviews at the time were published anonymously, but three of the reviewers below may be identified: the famous Walter Scott, the infamous John Wilson Croker, and even the husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, whose review of his own wife's novel was written in 1817 or 1818 but not published until 1832.

The reviews reproduced below, all but one responding to the first edition of 1818, are printed with the spelling and the punctuation of the original publications (with a few errors corrected and/or identified within square brackets). The long reviews offer detailed summaries of the plot and/or extended quotations from the text (a typical practice at the time), but these extended quotations are not reproduced (although square brackets note their omission).

Frankenstein: Or, The Modern Prometheus (London: Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, and Jones, 1818)

Presumption; or The Fate of Frankenstein (Richard Brinsly Peake's adaptation of Frankenstein):

Valperga: Or, the Life and Adventures of Castruccio, Prince of Lucca (London: G and W.B. Whittaker)

The Last Man (London: Henry Colburn):