STAFF at Oxford’s Bodleian Library have confirmed the discovery of a rare first edition of romantic novelist Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

The book lay untouched for 50 years in a private library.

The presentation copy of the 1818 novel was given to the poet Lord Byron and contains the inscription on the front flyleaf in black ink: “To Lord Byron, from the author.”

Frankenstein was published in a small edition of 500 copies and the publisher gave the author six copies for her own personal use.

The recently discovered copy was found in the library of the late Lord Jay by his grandson Sammy as he prepared papers for the Oxford University library’s archives.

Mr Jay, 23, said: “I saw the book lying at an angle in the corner of the top shelf.

“On opening it, I saw the title page, recognised what it was and leafed hungrily through the text.

“It was only when I flicked idly back that I saw the inscription in black ink.”

Richard Ovenden, pictured, deputy librarian at the Bodleian, verified the inscription as being in Mary Shelley’s hand.