Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is arguably the first science fiction book ever written (if you exclude the less scientific writings of Lucian or elements from One Thousand and One Nights), and it has inspired a multitude of movies, plays, radio dramas, and one awesome breakfast cereal. Now one of the first copies will be up for grabs at London bookseller, Peter Harrington.
This isn’t just any copy that the bookseller has on available: This copy is the one presented to Lord Byron, the man who helped inspire the book when he suggested to Shelley, her husband, Percy, and Byron’s doctor, John Polidori that they should all write a horror story, to entertain themselves on a rainy day. As a result, Shelley wrote Frankenstein, Percy Shelley wrote “A Fragment of a Ghost Story” (posthumously published as Journal at Geneva), Polidori wrote, The Vampyre, and Byron may or may not have occupied his time with Shelley’s sister, Claire Clairmont.
According to the Peter Harrington site, this 1818 book is:
First edition, presentation copy to Lord Byron, with the author’s autograph inscription to the front flyleaf: “To Lord Byron from the Author”. An unsurpassable association copy of the best known fiction of the Romantic era, perhaps the most evocative presentation copy conceivable in all nineteenth-century literature.
The website has offered no details on the price of the book. UPDATED: A representative for Peter Harrington told me that the store will be “inviting offers in excess of £350,000″ (currently $563,000). The site says that the book will be on sale after September 26, and that the company will be releasing a video and description of the tome on September 25.
Other items for sale at Peter Harrington include a first edition of Peter Pan, signed by J.M. Barrie for £50,000, and the first American edition of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights for £9750.