The English-Speaking Union

News and Events

Frankenstein: A Writing Contest from the ESU and The Morgan Library & Museum




Patrick McMahon student of Jessica Kaiser at Allentown High School

Read Patrick's Story Here!

Honorable Mention: Kaya Lewis, Kaya Billman



Ainsley Feeney student of Cynthia Wieland at Arlington High School

Read Ainsley's Story Here!

Honorable Mention: Kavan Puri, Eleanor Kimbro, Maddy Oliver



Winifred Tardy student of Elizabeth Chapman at Bellaire High School

Read Winifred's Journal Here!



Teresa Curry student of Colleen Murphy at Assumption High School

Read Teresa's Story Here!

Honorable Mention: Reyna Soll and Preethila Zaman

The ESU would like to thank the following people for their contributions:
- All the students who shared their talent with us. You are the future of the ESU and the future of English literature.
- All the teachers who who so much to nurture tomorrow's talent. The ESU is here to support you. 
- Organizations who helped to spread the word including the American Heritage Society, The National Honor Society, Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, the National English Honor Society
-Our branches and members who support  and make possible our educational programs 
Special thanks to The Morgan Library and Museum for their generous support and partnership. 

Please visit our website for information about future contests, webinars, PD sessions, workshops and other fun events for students and teachers. 

Imagine if you will...

Four young people, two of them teens, stuck inside their home because of a natural phenomenon they couldn't control. Bored. Tired. Wondering when life would return to normal.

And they didn't even have the internet.

This was the reality facing young Mary Shelley when she wrote her epic novel Frankenstein. Be like Mary and exercise your creativity. Join the ESU and The Morgan Library & Museum in a writing contest for our times!



The details:
- Four fun prompts inspire monstrous creativity! See our prompt section for full details.
- Open to middle and high school students across the United States
- Submissions must be received by October 15, 2020
- Winner to be announced on Halloween!

Prizes include:
-  $100 CASH to the best submission for each prompt! Four winners in all!
- A special copy of Frankenstein from the Morgan Library & Museum's gift shop
- A free membership to the ESU and to the Morgan Library & Museum
- Your picture and story highlighted in an article on the ESU website
- Honorable mentions will receive a certificate from the ESU

(visit the "Writing Competition Prompts" page for more information)

PROMPT 1. CREATING A 21st CENTURY GOTHIC CREATURE: Be like Victor Frankenstein and create a modern monster! For this prompt, visualize the character of the Creature. Using imagery and other literary techniques, create a 21st century Gothic Creature describing his/her appearance and that of the world in which he/she exists.  

PROMPT 2. WRITE YOUR OWN GOTHIC SHORT STORY: Bring your main characters, their obsessions, and their world to life! Write your own Gothic short story. Start by brainstorming the mood, setting, characters, and plotlines you'll use to make it "Gothic." Don't forget to  develop the Gothic elements of your story including the setting. Describe the main characters and their obsessions. What is their conflict and how does it resolve?

PROMPT 3. JOURNAL AND REFLECTION: How do your experiences compare to those of Mary Shelley's companion? Keep a journal or diary for a week, writing entries at least once a day. At the end of the week, look back over your entries and reflect on the content, then write a reflection comparing your experiences to the events recorded in Claire Clairmont's journalsSave your journal and reflection as one document (1000 words or less for each part). What kinds of events and experiences did you record? 

PROMPT 4. CREATING A 21ST CENTURY PROMETHEUS: Create a "Victor Frankenstein" for our times! Modernize the story by creating a "modern" Promethean character inspired by Victor Frankenstein. Write a scene within which you describe for your reader your character's modern conflicts, motivations, and characteristics.

This curriculum was intended to complement the exhibition It's Alive! Frankenstein at 200. An investigation of Shelley's novel and its legacy, the curriculum is divided into four thematic sections. Section One explores the novel's historical context, examining the Gothic and Romantic movements as well as the eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century science that inspired Mary Shelley. Section Two provides a look at Shelley's unconventional personal life, introducing her famous cast of family and friends, while Section Three investigates the process by which Mary Shelley composed and edited the novel. Section Four explores the innumerable adaptations of the book for stage, screen, and beyond.

Each resource section includes:

Everything teachers need to incorporate this fun contest into their curriculum, is provided by The Morgan Library & Museum. 

- Professional Development Session "Learning by Looking: Inquiry-Based Teaching with Objects" Courtesy of The Morgan Library & Museum