It’s one of the oldest pieces of pub quiz trivia around. “Actually,” we’ve all heard someone smugly pipe up, “Frankenstein was the name of the doctor, not the monster.” But if this Penguin book cover is anything to go by, he was neither.
What looks like a hilariously glaring printing error has gone viral online, in which it appears that Frankenstein is in fact the author of the book. And the title? Mary Shelley. Yep, it seems the author and title are the wrong way round. (Looks like someone needs one or two Photoshop tutorials.)
Viewed on its own, the Frankenstein spine would look fine. (Now there’s a poem.) But next to other books on Penguin’s Vintage imprint, it’s clear that the author should be in red, and the title in black. Indeed, by mixing up author and title, the mistake has turned the book cover into something of a Frankenstein in itself.
It seems the image was first shared by web designer Nate Hoffelder (opens in new tab) last year, and it’s still doing the rounds on both Twitter and Reddit (opens in new tab). And while we can’t be sure it isn’t a Photoshop job (anyone got this particular edition to hand?), it looks pretty legit.
“The confusion over which one is the monster just reached another level,” one Redditor quips, while another adds, “in this instance, the publisher is the monster.” Meanwhile, others have picked up on the apparent (and probably accidental) sexism of removing Shelley as author. “This is why men shouldn’t be allowed to design book coverings,” says one user, and another offers, “Early 1800s. A woman writing a book. Clearly a witch.”
From the world’s most offensive logo that questionable Sonic the Hedgehog Nintendo Switch controller, we’ve seen some pretty dodgy designs lately – and we wouldn’t be surprised if this one still haunts at least one Penguin cover designer at night. Still, at least it isn’t quite as bad as the worst design fails of all time.