Mary Shelley fans, romantic poetry fans, geology fans, Switzerland fans: have you heard of the iPhone/iPad app Summer of Darkness?
From the app’s website:
“Between 1812 and 1815 several large volcanoes erupted around the world including Mount Tambora in Indonesia, which was the largest volcanic eruption in a millennium. Ash accumulated in the atmosphere and changed weather patterns worldwide.
“1816 became known as the Year Without Summer. The average global temperature dropped by several degrees. Crops failed, many starved, and the normally beautiful Swiss summer was shrouded in gloom and rain. The world was prophesied to end in July.”
And, what else was happening? Mary Shelley (then Mary Godwin), aged 18, was traveling through Switzerland with her lover Percy Bysshe Shelley and her step-sister Claire Clairmont… who was in pursuit of her erstwhile lover Lord Byron… who was also in Switzerland, because he’d fled England in an attempt to avoid debtors and scandal. This was the summer when Mary Shelley began working on Frankenstein.
It’s currently the 200th anniversary of the Year Without Summer! If you download the app Summer of Darkness, you’ll get real-time updates of what all of these people were doing that summer. Letters written; poetry tinkered at; travel journals scribbled; reports of illnesses, heartbreaks, inspirations, arguments, challenges extended and met. This is just a guess on my part, but I bet we’ll get a pretty clear sense of what an asshole Byron was, too. It’s a win-win! :o) I for one can report that when I pick up my phone and see a notice that my dentist called and a reminder that I need to buy groceries, I’m also really happy to see a notification that Claire just wrote an impassioned letter to Lord Byron.
This app was created by Anindita Basu Sempere and Andrew Sempere of Digital Scenographic. Read more about the app here: http://summerofdarkness.com. And find it worldwide through the iTunes store here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/summer-of-darkness/id1102090467?ls=1&mt=8.