Shelley incorporated a number of different sources into her work, one of which was the Promethean myth from Ovid. The influence of John Milton's Paradise Lost, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, are also clearly evident within the novel. Mary is likely to have acquired some ideas for Frankenstein's character from Humphry Davy's book Elements of Chemical Philosophy, in which he had written that "science has ... bestowed upon man powers which may be called creative; which have enabled him to change and modify the beings around him ...". References to the French Revolution run through the novel; a possible source may lie in François-Félix Nogaret's Le Miroir des événemens actuels, ou la Belle au plus offrant (1790): a political parable about scientific progress featuring an inventor named Frankénsteïn who creates a life-sized automaton.
Within the last thirty years or so, many writers and historians have attempted to associate several then popular natural philosophers (now called physical scientists) to Shelley's work due to several notable similarities. Two of the most notable then-contemporary natural philosophers have been Giovanni Aldini and his many public attempts in London from 1801 to 1804 at human reanimation through bio-electric Galvanism (as reported by History Channel), and Johann Konrad Dippel who was supposed to have developed chemical means to extend the life span of humans. In both cases, while Shelley was obviously aware of these men and their activities, in no published or released notes written by Shelley, does Shelley herself make any mention or reference of these men or their experiments.