Mary Shelley’s creature in her famous novel Frankenstein was better adapted to Artic environments than human beings because the author believed the Earth would turn colder and eventually freeze.
Dr David Higgins, Associate Professor in English Literature, spoke about the influence of Mary Shelley, her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley and their contemporary, Lord Byron, on Radio 4’s Today programme. He said their response to the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815 – which lead to the notorious “Year without a summer” in 1816 – showed the writers reflecting on the power of human beings to shape the environment and a simultaneous vulnerability to uncontrollable elemental forces.
The work of the Romantic poet and novelists foreshadowed modern concerns about global warming, reflected in climate change fiction or “Cli-fi”, said Dr Higgins, who is leading an AHRC funded investigation into environmental catastrophe in Romantic-period writing at the University of Leeds.
He told presenter John Humphrys: “We are currently living at a time of unprecedented human impacts, sometimes called the Anthropocene – a new geological epoch …nature writers and contemporary poets are concerned with the larger context of global climate change.”
Listen to the interview here.