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Johann Conrad Dippel

  Johann Conrad Dippel (August 10 1673 - April 25 1734) was a German pietist theologian, alchemist and physician.


He was born at Castle Frankenstein near Darmstadt and therefore often signed letters with the addendum Frankensteinensis.

He studied theology, philosophy and alchemy at the University of Giessen obtaining a master degree in theology in 1693. He published many theological works under the name Christianus Democritus, most of them are still preserved. He led a very adventurous life, and often got into trouble because of his disputed opinions (and because of money). At one point he was imprisoned for heresy.

During his stay at Castle Frankenstein he practiced alchemy and anatomy, He created an animal oil known as Dippel's Oil which was supposed to be the equivalent to the Elixir of Life. Working with nitroglycerin he destroyed a tower, but also detected the medicinal use of it. It is rumored that he also performed gruesome experiments within this tower with cadavers. Though the actual details of the experiments have never been truly confirmed it is rumored that he attempted to transfer the soul of one cadaver into another. It should be noted that this particular experiment was only rumored to have happened, but he did perform gruesome experiments that eventually caused him to be driven out of town—when word of his activities reached the ears of townspeople he was thrown out. In 1704 in Berlin, he and the manufacturer Heinrich Diesbach applied this oil instead of potassium carbonate in producing red dyes. To their surprise they obtained a blue dye "Berliner Blau", also called "Preussisch Blau" or "Prussian blue". Together they founded a factory in Paris.

He died at Wittgenstein Castle near Bad Laasphe, probably from a stroke, though some contemporaries suspected poisoning.[1]

Connection to the novel Frankenstein

His connection to the Castle Frankenstein gave rise to the theory that he was a model for Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein, though that idea remains controversial. Local historians believe that the legends told in the villages surrounding the castle were transmitted by Jacob Grimm to Mary Jane Clairmont, translator of Grimm's fairy tales and stepmother of Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin. In 1814 Mary, her half-sister Claire Clairmont and Percy Bysshe Shelley are said to have visited castle Frankenstein, on their way to Lake Geneva.


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This article incorporates text from the public domain 1907 edition of The Nuttall Encyclopædia.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Johann_Conrad_Dippel". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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