Son of Baron Frankenstein and father of Ludwig and Wolf Frankenstein, Henry Frankenstein was a young and ambitious medical student living in the town of Goldstadt. While studying at the medical school in Goldstadt, Henry made an amazing discovery, that electricity contained the "ultra-violet ray" which first brought life into the world (Considering the time these films were made, much of the scientific facts they present should be taken with a grain of salt).
Under the questionable tutelage of Dr. Pretorius, Henry began to explore this new path more obsessively. He discovered that it was possible to build a device capable of harnessing the electrical secrets of heaven, which could then be used to, in theory, give life to the dead. Not content to simply give life to any old corpse, Henry took it upon himself to build his own human body from parts culled from cadavers he could find anywhere, be it the gallows, the morgue or even graveyards.
When Henry's favorite teacher Dr. Waldman, who knew of Henry's work but thought he was experimenting with the bodies of rabbits and dogs, found out that his student was using human bodies, he promptly had Henry expelled from the school. Bitter but undeterred, Henry enlisted the services of Fritz the hunchback, and the two set up his laboratory in an abandoned watchtower outside of Goldstadt. There, Henry would work day in and day out assembling his equipment and putting together the body of his man, ignoring everything else, including his father the Baron, his best friend Victor Moritz and even his fiancee Elizabeth.
Much to Henry's annoyance, Elizabeth picked the very night his work was to be completed to show up at the watchtower with Victor and Dr. Waldman in tow, intended to persuade her fiancee to abandon his unwholesome work and come home. Henry refused, but, clearly in the grip of a nervous and triumphant mania, invited the three into his laboratory to watch him give life to the dead body laying on the operating table. He did so, and in a shower of sparks and flashes of light, the hand of the once-dead body began to move. This prompted Henry to shout with maniacal glee, "Look. It's moving. It's alive. It's alive! It's alive, it's alive, it's a live! In the name of God, now I know what it feels like to be God!"
Thus, the Frankenstein Monster was born. Over the next few days, the excitement of his success began to wear off, and Henry began to see the many flaws in the Monster (including the fact that Fritz had stolen the wrong brain for it) and found that trying to teach the creature how to behave properly was extremely difficult and tiresome, especially due to the Monster's frequent temper tantrums as a result of Fritz provoking it. When the Monster finally lashed out and killed Fritz, a guilt-ridden Henry gave up on his creation, returning home with Elizabeth and his father, leaving the task of painlessly destroying the creature to Dr. Waldman.
Away from his laboratory for the first time in months, Henry returned to normal and planned to marry Elizabeth as planned. Unfortunately, the Monster had killed Waldman and escaped into the countryside, accidentally killing a local little girl named Maria. Her father, Ludwig (no relation to Henry's future son), bayed for the Monster's blood. And when the Monster invaded the Frankenstein estate and terrified Elizabeth into fainting, Henry decided that enough was enough and, along with Ludwig and Burgomaster Vogel, organized a massive manhunt to chase down and capture the Monster.
The hunt did not go entirely as planned. Henry found himself confronting the Monster alone, and with one solid punch the creature rendered his creator unconscious. Henry was then dragged by the Monster to an abandoned windmill for unknown reasons, followed closely by the search party. After regaining consciousness, Henry and his creation fought atop the windmill. The fight ended with the Monster tossing Henry off the windmill, the unfortunate student hitting the slowly-turning blades of the windmill on the way down. He survived, but would be bed-ridden for weeks. The Monster, meanwhile, was thought to have been killed when the villagers set fire to the windmill and burned it down with him inside.