It is believed that Mary Shelley was inspired by the sublime Frankenstein Castle to write her iconic novel.
On top of a hill in the village of Gernsheim, Germany, and at a height of 370 meters, rises the untamed Frankenstein Castle. It is perhaps the most appreciated medieval enclosure by tourists because it is believed that Mary Shelley was inspired by it to write her novel of the same name.
The Closeness of Frankenstein’s Castle to Mary Shelley
It is likely that in 1814, a few days after her 17th birthday, Mary Shelley gazed at the majestic castle while on a stopover in Germany before returning to her native England by boat on the Rhine. It is uncertain whether Shelley and her husband, Percy Bysshe, climbed to the top of the mountain to visit Frankenstein’s castle up close. Instead, it is more likely that during their short stay on their way back from visiting France and Switzerland, the young writer heard the garish rumors of the alchemist and physician Johann Konrad Dippel.
According to urban legends, Dippel had been born in the castle (that already bore the name ‘Frankenstein Castle’) by the time Shelley visited Gernsheim. Konrad apparently led a controversial life with alchemical studies. He even theorized about being able to transfer the soul of one person to another through a funnel.
Although the coincidences between Dippel’s story and Mey Shelley’s novel Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus, published in 1818, are simply terrifying, there is no proof that the writer actually based her novel on Dippel, who lived in Frankenstein’s Castle.
Some believe that instead of taking the alchemist as a model to create the creepy character of Victor Frankenstein, Shelley based herself on the experiments of the 18th-century physiologist Erasmus Darwin. Like Victor, Darwin also explored the idea of bringing someone back to life; he, incidentally, was the paternal grandfather of the well-known naturalist Charles Darwin.
It is unclear where Mary Shelley took inspiration to create one of the most important novels in history, but the coincidences with the stories surrounding Frankenstein Castle are very obvious.
It is believed that Frankenstein Castle was built before 1250 and that it was erected by the mandate of Lord Konrad II Reiz von Breuberg, who thereafter became known as ‘von Frankenstein.’ The first official document attesting to the existence of the residence dates from 1252 and is in the name of Lord Konrad II; thereafter, is recognized as the property of the Frankenstein family.
It is currently one of the most widely visited medieval enclosures by tourists, thanks to the fact that it can be admired from the small town of Gernsheim, which is part of the federal state of Hesse, Germany. The impressive castle is open to the public, and you can climb to the top of its tower, as well as dine in the restaurant located in the courtyard of the place, an experience that surely all lovers of gothic literature would like to live.
Story originally published in Spanish in Ecoosfera