Lynd Ward's 1934 Edition of "Frankenstein"
In honor of Halloween this year we wanted to write about an iconic character from what is seen as one of the first horror books: Frankenstein’s monster.
The story behind the writing of the book is almost as interesting as the novel itself. While in Geneva with her husband at the home of Lord Byron, Mary Shelley first came up with the idea for the story. The weather had been unusually gloomy with a blanket of smoke covering the landscape due to a volcanic eruption in Asia. Confined to the house, the group read Gothic tales to one another. On one particular evening, Byron challenged them to write their own stories. This is how Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus was born.
It was first published in 1818 when Mary Shelley was only 20 years old, and grew in popularity through its various stage adaptations. It became a constant source for reinterpretations, and in 1934, perhaps after the success of the 1931 film, Harrison Smith and Robert Haasdecided to publish a new edition with illustrations by the artist Lynd Ward (1905–1985).
Lynd Ward is known for his work in wood engraving and illustrations; often these were published as wordless books that were seen as a precursor to graphic novels. Stylistically, his work draws on Expressionism and Art Deco. These wood engravings show the imposing nature of the monster, and he uses the technique of wood engraving to creates streams of light in the background of the works. For those interested in seeing some of these works in person, a selection can now be seen at the Morgan Library in New York City as part of their It’s Alive! Frankestein at 200 exhibition.