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Ruth Mortimer Frankenstein Collection, 1824-1993
4 boxes (1 linear ft.)
Collection number: MS 12

Abstract:
Librarian, teacher, and curator of rare books at Smith College who was instrumental in obtaining the Sylvia Plath Collection and the Frances Hooper Collection of Virginia Woolf. The rare book collection was named in her honor in 1994. Contains 23 items, including audio and video cassettes, sale catalogs, craft books, ephemera, and computer software relating to Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein."
Mortimer Rare Book Room
Smith College
Northampton, MA

Biographical Note

RUTH MORTIMER, 1931-1994

Ruth Mortimer began her career with rare books while an undergraduate at Smith College, working as an assistant in the Rare Book Room until her graduation summa cum laude in 1953. She went on to obtain a masters degree in Library Science from Columbia University. From 1957 to 1975 she worked at the Houghton Library at Harvard University, producing two remarkable catalogues of their sixteenth-century French and Italian books. French Sixteenth-Century Books, the first catalogue, was chosen by the American Institute of Graphic Arts as one of the Fifty Books of the Year for 1964.

In 1975 she returned to Smith College, where she served as curator of rare books until her death in January 1994. While curator, she was instrumental in obtaining the Sylvia Plath Collection and the Frances Hooper Collection of Virginia Woolf. She also taught a course in the art department on the history of books and printing, which utilized the Rare Book Room's holdings. The rare book collection was named in her honor in 1994. Ruth Mortimer was also fascinated with the publishing history of Frankenstein and collected subsequent editions, secondary material, videos, audiocassettes, and ephemera for fifteen years.

MARY SHELLEY, 1797-1851

Shelley was born Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin on 30 August 1797, the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft, author of A Vindication of the Rights of Women, the classic manifesto of sexual equality, and William Godwin, radical political philosopher and author of Enquiry Concerning Political Justice. She published her first book at the age of eleven, Mounseer Nongtongpaw, a rhyming children's story, under the imprint of the Juvenile Library, her stepmother's publishing house. She was first to meet Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1812, and eloped with him to the continent in July 1814, although they would not be married until after the suicide of his first wife in December 1816. Their first child was born prematurely and died in March 1815.

In 1816 the couple moved to Bishopsgate, where their second child was born in January 1816. Shortly thereafter the family travelled to Geneva to meet Lord Byron. It was during this house party that Byron made the suggestion that each guest write a ghost story. Mary Shelley began a short story which she expanded into the novel Frankenstein. The novel was finished in 1817, and while she was waiting for it to be published, she finished a work entitled History of a Six Weeks' Tour. The History was published in November, two months after the birth of her third child. Frankenstein was an immediate success following its publication on 1 January 1818, and the title pages of all her subsequent works read "by the author of Frankenstein." In September 1818 and June 1819, both her children died. Shelley continued to write, producing an unfinished novella, Matilda, a historical novel, Valperga, and blank verse adaptations of Ovid's Prosperine and Midas. She also gave birth to a fourth child, the only one to reach adulthood, Percy Florence Shelley.

In June 1822, Shelley suffered a miscarriage, and on 8 July 1822, Percy Shelley drowned while sailing in the Gulf of Spezia. Forced to agree not to publish any of Percy Shelley's work during her father-in-law's lifetime, she continued to write periodical essays in The Liberal and novels, The Last Man (1826) and Perkin Warbeck (1830). In 1831, Frankenstein appeared in a best-selling single volume version. In 1834, she was commissioned to write biographical sketches for Rev. Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopedia. She continued to write sketches for subsequent volumes until 1839, and also published another novel, Faulkner in 1837. Her father-in-law's prohibition lifted, she then began to edit a four-volume edition of the complete works of her husband, despite declining health. Her last work was published in 1844, an account of a tour of the continent made with her son and his college friends, Rambles in Germany and Italy. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley died in London on 1 February 1851 at the age of 53.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Ruth Mortimer Frankenstein Collection contains 23 items, including audio and video cassettes, sale catalogs, craft books, ephemera, and computer software. The collection spans the years 1824-1993, with the majority of items dating from 1979-1993. The material was collected by Ruth Mortimer and was presented to the Mortimer Rare Book Room, in her memory, by John Lancaster in 1994. Mortimer also collected 52 editions of Frankenstein, in 60 volumes, and 43 secondary source titles in 48 volumes. These materials were presented to the Mortimer Rare Book Room at the same time as this collection, and are cataloged separately.


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

Ruth Mortimer Frankenstein Collection, Mortimer Rare Book Room, Smith College.

History of the Collection

The material was collected by Ruth Mortimer and was presented to the Mortimer Rare Book Room, in her memory, by John Lancaster in 1994.


Additional Information
Contact Information
Mortimer Rare Book Room
William Allan Neilson Library
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: (413) 585-2906
Fax: (413) 585-2904

Email: mrbr@smith.edu
URL: http://www.smith.edu/libraries/libs/rarebook
Language
English.
Sponsor
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Series Descriptions
1979-1993


Series I. contains six audio cassettes and one video cassette.

1982


Series II. consists of one sale catalog including a description of a first edition of Shelley's Frankenstein.

1978-1983


Series III. contains two craft books with instructions on how to draw Frankenstein and how to make a Frankenstein mask.

1824-1993


Series IV. contains printed ephemera with material such as a printing advertisement, a cartoon from the New York Times, a catalog for novelty Halloween items, movie posters, documents and a prospectus from a company publishing an edition of Frankenstein, a flipbook, a mobile, a plate from a book showing the Arctic area where Frankenstein is set, a playbill, a program, and a pop up card.

18 Jan 1993

Box 2: folder 19
Scope and content:

Describes the limited partnership which published Barry Moser's illustrated edition of Frankenstein.

Note:

Privately published.

1824-1979


Arrangement:

Arranged in the same order as material in Series IV.

Scope and content:

The oversize material contains papers from Series IV.

Contents List
Series I. Cassettes, audio and visual,
1979-1993


Frankenstein. Performed by James Mason. New York: Caedmon
c1979
1 audio cassette in publisher's case.
Box 1: folder 1
Note:

"Abridged."

Frankenstein. Performed by James Mason. New York: Caedmon
c1989
1 audio cassette in publisher's case.
Box 1: folder 2
Note:

"Abridged."

Frankenstein. Read by Derek Young, John Franklyn, Pamela Mant, Peter O'Connell, Glynis Casson. Ocean, N.J.: Musical Heritage Society
c1991
1 audio cassette.
Box 1: folder 3
Note:

"Abridged."

Julie Harris reads Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. Albuquerque, N.M.: Newman
c1985
2 audio cassettes in publisher's case.
Box 1: folder 4
Note:

"Abridged."

The original Frankenstein. San Francisco: The Mind's Eye
[n.d.]
2 audio cassettes.
Box 1: folder 5
Note:

[Abridged.]

"Frankenstein 6/13/93."

1 video cassette.
Box 1: folder 6
Series II. Catalogs,
1982


Christie, Manson and Woods International Inc. English and American literature: the collection of Dr. Gerald E. Slater, Deephaven, Minnesota
February 12, 1982
2 copies.
Box 2: folder 7

Includes a reproduction of frontispiece and description of first edition of Frankenstein.

Series III. Craft books,
1978-1983


Grater, Michael. Cut and make Monster Masks in full color. Dover Publications, New York:
1978

Box 2: folder 8

Mask #9: Frankenstein's monster in two sections.

Ames, Lee J. Draw 50 monsters.... Doubleday, New York:
1983

Box 2: folder 9

Instructions on how to draw Bride of Frankenstein and Frankenstein's monster.

Series IV. Ephemera,
1824-1993


Advertisement. The Pinwheel Menu of Line Conversions. Schaedler Quinzel, Inc. New York:
1989

Box 2: folder 10

The monster's head (from the movie) is used as a sample for a variety of line screen treatments.

Cartoon. Meyerowitz, Rick. New York Times
1 Aug 1993
Section 4, page 1.
Box 2: folder 11

Cartoon depicts President Bill Clinton as Frankenstein and Senator Bob Dole as Igor, who is placing former President George Bush's head onto the monster's body.

Catalog. Oriental Trading Company, Inc., Omaha, N.E.:
1993

Box 2: folder 12
Note:

Various representations of the Frankenstein monster can be found on pages 1, 5-9, 11-13, 20, 23, 25, 27, 34, 37.

Scope and content:

Catalog is for Halloween and holiday novelty items.

Color photocopy. Two Italian movie posters: Frankenstein contro L'uomo Lupo [Trans. Frankenstein against the Wolf Man] and Il figlio di Frankenstein [Trans. Son of Frankenstein].


Box 2: folder 13
Execution Documents. Frankenstein Associates
March 1993.

Box 2: folder 14
Note:

Privately printed.

Scope and content:

Paperwork to join limited partnership which published Barry Moser's illustrated edition of Frankenstein.

Flipbook. Kidnapped by Frankenstein.
[n.p., n.d.]

Box 2: folder 15

Scenes from the movie.

Mobile. Omscan: New York
1979


Note:

48" jointed Frank the Monster. [See also Box 4, Folder 22]

Plate. From book published by John Murray, London:
Jan 1824


Note:

Depicts Arctic area where the frame of Frankenstein is set. [See also Box 4, Folder 23]

Playbill. Gialanella, Victor. Frankenstein: a new play. For opening night,
4 Jan 1981

Box 2: folder 16
Pop-up card. PopShots 3-D Cards. Thrilling Birthday. Popshots Inc.
n.d.

Box 2: folder 17

Birthday card depicting various monsters in pop-up form. Frankenstein's monster is at the back of the card holding a birthday cake.

Program. Frankenstein: playing with fire. The Guthrie Theater production at the Fine Arts Center, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Feb. 23, 1988
2 copies.
Box 2: folder 18
Prospectus. Frankenstein Associates
18 Jan 1993

Box 2: folder 19
Series V. Software,
1992-1993


Series V. contains two computer discs with printouts of the material on the disc, the text of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

Frankenstein. [N.l.]: Spectrum Press
c1992
One computer disk (3.5"; formatted for MS-DOS, 760 K).
Box 3: folder 20
Note:

With a print-out of the text, formatted in PageMaker and printed in Adobe Caslon type.

Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus. Champaign, Ill.: Project Gutenberg
1993
One computer disk (3.5"; formatted for MS-DOS, 1.4M).
Box 3: folder 21
Note:

Two versions, with a print-out of each. [Version does not include the "Preface".]

Series VI. Oversize,
1824-1979


EPHEMERA



Mobile. Omscan: New York
1979

Box 4: folder 22
Note:

48" jointed Frank the Monster.

Plate. From book published by John Murray, London:
Jan 1824

Box 4: folder 23
Note:

Depicts Arctic area where the frame of Frankenstein is set.


Search Terms
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Subjects
  • Mortimer, Ruth.
  • Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, 1797-1851 Frankenstein.


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