By SAMUEL GRAYDON
On entering 50 Albemarle Street, I felt as Ali Baba might have as the stone was rolled back from the mouth of the thieves’ cave. For an inconspicuous white town house, a minute’s walk from Green Park underground station, it certainly held more than its fair share of treasures. This was John Murray’s house and, from 1768 to 2002, it was the site of operations for the publisher that bears his name. I was directed up a wide staircase to the first floor where, in a room with grand bookshelves and gold wallpaper, lay a spread of tea, coffee, pastries and fruit (and, oddly, Bloody Marys). This was the “Frankenstein Breakfast” of the Keats-Shelley Memorial Association. Evidently, Frankenstein went for the Continental.
We were celebrating the winners of the 2016 Keats-Shelley Prize for poetry and essays on the theme “After Frankenstein” (for the bicentenary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s novel), and the winners of the Young Romantics Prize, for sixteen- to eighteen-year-olds, now in its second year. The Association had organized a reading, by the actors Helen McCrory and Damian Lewis, of extracts from Frankenstein intermingled with extracts from Shelley’s diary, arranged by the poet Pele Cox.