Common Misconceptions About Famous Books and Authors

Universal Pictures, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Universal Pictures, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain / Universal Pictures, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Back in 1816, Mary Shelley started writing Frankenstein and later published the story in 1818. Since then, it has become a tale that many of us know well ... or at least think we do. It's a widely held belief, for example, that the monster was created by the evil Dr. Frankenstein and his trusty hunchback lab assistant, Igor. Only, Frankenstein wasn’t a doctor at all, and nowhere in the book does it say that he is. Instead, he's actually a student—and, at least in the original story, a sidekick-less student at that. While Frankenstein had a lab assistant in several adaptations of the book, it’s believed that Igor is simply a stock henchman character of Gothic literature.

But incorrect plot points aren’t the only common errors readers face when it comes to literature: Characters are also often misquoted. Search any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original Sherlock Holmes books and you won't find the famed detective uttering "Elementary, my dear Watson” even once.

Many common literary misconceptions extend beyond the page and to the world's most famous authors. For example: While it's true that Jane Austen didn't publish any books under her own name while she was alive, her identity was not very secret. Many people knew exactly who she was and what she did (the Prince Regent even invited her to his library).

In this episode of "Misconceptions," we're getting to the bottom of the many wild inaccuracies that surround the works and lives of such legendary writers as William Shakespeare and Ernest Hemingway. You can watch the full episode below.

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