German mad scientist (1673-1734). The son of a Lutheran minister, Dippel was born in Castle Frankenstein near the Rhine River. As a youth, he believed that he was a prophet and was gifted with a supernaturally-high intellect. He earned a degree in theology from the University of Giessen and taught at the University of Strasbourg, where he began to sign his name as "Franckensteina," or Frankenstein. In Strasbourg, Dippel dabbled in astrology and palmistry, but got himself chased out of the city in 1696 after being caught robbing graves for medical lectures. (See a pattern forming here yet?)

Dippel moved to Darmstadt, where he began studying alchemy. He announced that he had discovered the legendary Philosopher's Stone in 1701, but had to flee the area because he never actually produced any gold. In Berlin, he produced something called the Elixir of Life, which he made from distilled blood. Another invention he created, called Dippel's Oil, was a concoction of bones, blood, and other bodily fluids distilled in iron tubes and other alchemical equipment, was intended as a variation of the Elixir of Life, but served only as a stimulant.

In 1707, Dippel's resemblance to King Charles XII of Sweden got him arrested as a Swedish spy. After he was released, he moved to the more tolerant Holland, which proved intolerant of his continued experiments with corpses (he was trying to transfer souls from one body to another), forcing him to flee to Denmark in 1714. More trouble ensued, as he was imprisoned for treason. The Queen of Denmark, a noted hypochondriac, made Dippel her personal physician in 1726, and he was released from jail. Soon afterward, he moved to Sweden, where he was made the personal physician of King Frederick I, and then quickly moved back to Darmstadt in 1729.

Back in Germany, Dippel returned to alchemy and refined his Elixir of Life. He offered the secrets of his elixir to the Landgrave of Hesse in exchange for the feudal right to Castle Frankenstein, but his offer was rejected. Dippel's advertisements for his elixir attracted the attention of Count August vot Wittgenstein, an old patron, and Dippel made extravagant promises that the Elixer would allow the Count to live to the age of 135. Unsurprisingly, Wittgenstein died only a few years later, possibly from an overdose of Dippel's elixir, which may have contained cyanide...

It is still debated how much influence his life had on the creation of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein". Although Shelley is known to have visited Castle Frankenstein, it can't be documented how much, if any, research she did about Dippel's life and career...

Primary research: Suppressed Transmission: The Second Broadcast by Kenneth Hite, "Frankenstein Family Album", pp. 65-66.

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