Criminal Chronology


Following the accidental discovery that an electric charge could contract the muscles of a frog, the Italian Luigi Galvani believed he had discovered a particular kind of electricity. Further experimentation on the bodies of mammals led to the desire to experiment on a human corpse. Two weeks after Galvani’s nephew, Giovanni Aldini, had experimented on the body of a dog, George Forster was executed for the murder of his wife and child. His body was immediately passed on for the experiment.  

In the preface to the 1831 edition of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley wrote: 

Many and long were the conversations between Lord Byron and [Percy] Shelley, to which I was a devout but nearly silent listener. During one of these, various philosophical doctrines were discussed, and among others the nature of the principle of life, and whether there was any probability of its ever being discovered and communicated .... Perhaps a corpse would be re-animated; galvanism had given token of such things: perhaps the component parts of a creature might be manufactured, brought together, and endued with vital warmth.

Full title:
Criminal Chronology; or, the New Newgate Calendar; being interesting memoirs of notorious characters ... brought down to the present time ... With occasional essays on crimes and punishments, etc.
1809, 1810, London, Liverpool, Merseyside
Andrew Knapp
Held by:
British Library

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