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Last Updated: Friday, 29 August, 2003, 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK
Frankenstein's Welsh link
Frankenstein's monster
What do Frankenstein's monster and mid Wales have in common?
The link between mid Wales and Frankenstein has been revealed - partially at least - during a six-day conference.

Academics from all over the world travelled to Aberystwyth to discuss the Celts.

The connections of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley and Harriet Beecher Stowe, writer of Uncle Tom's Cabin, with Ceredigion were disclosed by Wyn James on Friday.

But he admits there is still more to be done to establish the full extent of Mary Shelley's Welshness.

Based on the theme crossing boundaries, more than 200 papers have been put forward at the town's university.

Other topics included why the English don't speak Welsh, bodily matters in early Irish literature and a comparison of Australia's Welsh and Cornish.

I have been astounded by the huge interest in all things Celtic, especially as so much of this interest has come from outside what we traditionally consider to be the Celtic countries.
Organiser Dana Edwards

Dr James' paper - Uncle Tom and Frankenstein in the land of Dewi and Helen - showed that the two authors' family roots lie in the Tregaron area of the county.

"Harriet Beecher Stowe's great grandmother was born in Llanddewi Brefi before emigrating to America in the mid-18th century," said Dr James, a lecturer at Cardiff University.

"But I have still to confirm the connection between Mary Shelley and John Jones, a puritan who lived at Llwyn-rhys farm at Llanbadarn Odwyn in the 1670s," he added.

"The academic JH Davies stated in 1906 that Mary Shelley's father was a descendant of John Jones but I have yet to find conclusive proof that this is true.

"But her great grandmother, Judith Weaver came from Radnorshire."

Mary Shelley was born in London in 1797 and at the age of 16 she ran away to France with English romantic poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Lake Geneva
The Frankenstein story was born on the banks of Lake Geneva
They married in 1816 - the same year that the story of Frankenstein was started.

The genesis of the story came when the Shelleys stayed with Lord Byron at Lake Geneva.

Mary took up the challenge set by Byron and Shelley to write the most frightening ghost story during one storm-tossed evening.

Completed within a year, the book was published in 1818 to huge acclaim.

The story has inspired more than 50 film versions, among the most memorable being James Whale's 1931 version starring Boris Karloff.

Mary Shelley wrote a little about Wales - her novel Lodore, published in 1835, was partly set in Wales.

Her husband also had Welsh connections.

Radical activity

Before his marriage to Mary, he had moved to Tanyrallt in Caernarfonshire after discovering he was being watched by Home Office spies because of his radical activity and writing.

While there it is said that he was attacked by a shepherd who fired three shots at him.

The 12th International Congress of Celtic Studies which runs until Saturday is the largest of its kind.

Aberystwyth University
Celtic and non-Celtic countries are all represented

Academics from 22 countries - including some from non-Celtic countries such as Russia, Poland, Israel and Finland - will present papers.

Organiser Dana Edwards said: "I have been astounded by the huge interest in all things Celtic, especially as so much of this interest has come from outside what we traditionally consider to be the Celtic countries.

"It is also very pleasing that it is not just academics who are coming to the congress but also very many interested lay people.

"We are, of course, still keen to welcome even more people to hear the wide variety of papers."




SEE ALSO:
Americans discover Welsh roots
03 Jul 02  |  Wales
Genes link Celts to Basques
03 Apr 01  |  Wales



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