Was James Lind the inspiration for Frankenstein?

The real inspiration for Mary Shelley's Frankenstein may have been Dr James Lind - an eccentric Scottish doctor living in Windsor and born in 1736 (his cousin being the father of nautical medicine).

James Lind was the mentor of Percy Bysshe Shelley, when he was at Eton,and was probably one of the first people in England to demonstrate electro-medical experiments "to make dead frogs jump like living ones".

James Lind had a lively interest in "animal electricity". He was responsible for Shelley's interests in science and remained an important person in the poet's life.

Christopher Goulding argues in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine that Mary Shelley owed much of the knowledge she had of science to her husband.

Shelley said of James Lind "I owe that man far - oh - far more than my own father".

According to Mary Shelley her husband only spoke of him "in terms of tenderest respect".

Mr Goulding, whose thesis explores the influence of science and philosophy on Shelley's poetry, said that the idea of a link between James Lind and Frankenstein "just occurred " to him in the course of his studies.

Mary Shelley's interest was thought to be primarily whit he moral and social implications of her story, which was written in 1816/17 and it must be admitted that the details of science are sketchy.

In her introduction to the revised single column edition of 1831 she describes how she was a silent listener to the log philosophical discussions between her husband and Lord Byron.

James Lind was a member of the court circle at Windsor and demonstrated his experiments to George 111 and his family. He suggested, in private correspondence, the use of electric shocks to cure the king's madness.

Lind's study was full of scientific paraphernalia of the time. Telescopes, galvanic batteries, daggers, electrical machines and all the divers apparatus which a philosopher was supposed to possess.

Shelley, as an Oxford student, has rooms full of similar objects.

Shelley's admiration for James Lind is not in question. He is Zonoras in the poem of the same name and was described by the poet as a beloved friend with silver white hair "and lips where heavenly smiles would hang and blend with his wise words".

It is highly probable that Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was influenced by her husbands talk of his experiences and knowledge gained from James Lind.

 
 
     
James Lind - the father of Nautical Medicine

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