Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, August 13, 2021

Like many people, my mood tends to darken with the onset of foul weather. Translation: Dank, sun-less days bum me out, man.

I’ve yet to be bummed out to the point where I write an iconic horror novel. Then again, I didn’t live through 1816’s “Year Without a Summer” climactic phenomenon. If I had, like Mary Shelley did, my washed-out Swiss vacation might have yielded the heavily weather-inspired “Frankenstein”.

Mary Shelley started writing the book in 1816, when she was just a teenager. It wasn’t too long after she had run off with the married poet Percy Shelley. They went to Switzerland for a summer vacation.

“I think the plan had been to be tourists and go climbing mountains and things like that,” Phillips says. “And they couldn’t, because of the weather.”

The weather was beyond bad. It was unbelievable…

“It actually really was dark, for days if not weeks on end,” Phillips says. “It was one of the coldest periods in modern history, so it was extremely serious.”

He says that in many places, the harvests failed for three consecutive years. There were food riots, and many people were dying from starvation.

And the cold, always the cold. With which the creature is persistently linked, up to and including the climax:

“He invariably meets his creator at the tops of mountains, in icy caves,” he says. “Then at the end of the novel, they go into the Arctic Ocean and we’re led to believe that they die as they drift off on an ice floe.”

Now, maybe Mary Shelley would have sent her creature to the Arctic no matter what kind of weather was outside her window. But John Clubbe doesn’t think so.

An emeritus professor of English at the University of Kentucky, he has written about Frankenstein’s link to The Year Without a Summer. He points out that in 1816, it was snowing in July.

“Seeing this world of ice and snow at close hand, when you should be seeing green fields and trees in bloom, this is so unusual,” Clubbe says. “It has to affect the way you feel and want to write.”

Proving that, ultimately, we can’t help but be impacted by the way the wind blows.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 08/13/2007 11:26:13 PM
Category: Publishing, Weather, History
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