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In April 1815, a volcanic island in the East Indies named Tamboro erupted. Geologists believe it was the largest explosion to take place on the planet in at least ten thousand years, several times more powerful than the better known eruption of Krakatoa in 1885. The dust that was scattered twenty miles skyward by Tamboro disrupted weather patterns around the globe. Before the year was out, sunsets in England had turned stunning red and purple — inspiring the landscape painter Joseph Turner to change his palette. The following summer Europe was gripped by unseasonal rain and cold.
This was the weather that confined Mary [Shelley] and her friends to their villa. In a very real sense, her inspiration might be said to have burst from the bowels of the Earth. The story of the first mad scientist was imagined by a young woman kept indoors by storms that are now used to model the devastation that might be wrought by thermonuclear war.
Theodore Roszak, The Gendered Atom, 1999