Lyceum: Local author talks creating ‘Mary’s Monster’

  • Award-winning author and illustrator Lita Judge speaks at the Peterborough Summer Lyceum Sunday morning. Staff Photo By MEGHAN PIERCE

  • Award-winning author and illustrator Lita Judge speaks at the Peterborough Summer Lyceum Sunday morning. Staff Photo By MEGHAN PIERCE—

  • Award-winning author and illustrator Lita Judge speaks at the Peterborough Summer Lyceum Sunday morning. Staff Photo By MEGHAN PIERCE—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 8/8/2019 11:11:13 AM

Award-winning author and illustrator Lita Judge talked about the nagging question that drove her to create her book about Frankenstein author Mary Shelly in her talk “Mary’s Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein” at the Monadnock Summer Lyceum on Sunday.

Judge, a Peterborough resident, said she first read Frankenstein as a 9th grader and admits “the themes of the book went way over my head.” When she reread the book, however, in 2010 she was surprised at how deeply the themes resonated with her as well as how young the author of it had been when she wrote it. “This is a book that has been in print for 200 years, it’s one of these most-read novels of all time. It set off a revolution in literature. And it’s written by this young teenager. … And that actually created more questions than answers because how could a 19-year-old write this book?”

There is the origin story, that Judge soon learned is what most people associate with the genesis of the book. “On a stormy night, Lord Byron had dared everybody to write a ghost story. And when I reread the book I realized, ‘But this isn’t a ghost story.’ This is an incredible social criticism of its day, challenging the mistreatment of those unlike ourselves and what the outcome to that is. It’s also challenging what might happen in a world where men use science for their own ambition with no regard to what that can set into motion. So suddenly this origin no longer held any credence at all for me so this begged the question why did she write this and more importantly how was she able to write this?”

These questions kicked off her research into Shelly, which at the time was only to satisfy her own curiosity. “It was merely a personal exercise. I was happily creating fiction picture books at the time, but by the end I became so outraged by the origin story and that that’s what we know of Mary Shelly. This is a remarkable young woman and the origin story places the credit of writing this book in the hands of a male author.”

Judge spent eight years creating “Mary’s Monster”, an illustrated novel in verse, about the life of Shelley published last year.

The Monadnock Summe r Lyceum is a series of summer lectures, held every Sunday at 11 a.m. at the Peterborough Unitarian Universalist Church.

The Lyceum is on hiatus this week due to the MacDowell Colony Medal Day, which is Sunday at noon. The Lyceum resumes Aug. 18 with Debby Irving and her talk “Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race.”

Lyceum talks are available as podcasts on the Monadnock Summer Lyceum website at www.monadnocklyceum.org.


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