- The Vampyre
infobox short story |
name = The Vampyre
John William Polidori
language = English
genre = Horror
publisher = "New Monthly "magazine and universal register; London: H. Colburn, 1814-1820. Vol. 1, No. 63.
1 April 1819
media_type = Print (
pages = p.195-206
The work is described by
Christopher Fraylingas "the first story successfully to fuse the disparate elements of vampirism into a coherent literary genre." [Frayling (1992), p108.]
*Lord Ruthven – a suave British nobleman, the vampire
*Aubrey – a young gentleman, an orphan
*Ianthe – a beautiful woman Aubrey meets on his journeys with Ruthven.
*Aubrey's sister – who becomes engaged to the Earl of Marsden
*Earl of Marsden – who is also Lord Ruthven
"The Vampyre" was first published on
1 April 1819by Colburn in the "New Monthly Magazine" with the false attribution "A Tale by Lord Byron." The name of the work's protagonist, "Lord Ruthven", added to this assumption, for that name was originally used in Lady Caroline Lamb's novel "Glenarvon" (from the same publisher), in which a thinly-disguised Byron figure was also named Lord Ruthven. Despite repeated denials by Byron and Polidori, the authorship often went unclarified.
The story was an immediate popular success, partly because of the Byron attribution and partly because it exploited the gothic horror predilections of the public. Polidori transformed the vampire from a character in
folkloreinto the form that is recognized today — an aristocratic fiend who preys among high society. [Frayling (1992).]
The story has its genesis in the summer of 1816, the
Year Without a Summer, when Europe and parts of North America underwent a severe climateabnormality. Lord Byronand his young physician John Polidori were staying at the Villa Diodatiby Lake Genevaand were visited by Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelleyand Claire Clairmont. Kept indoors by the "incessant rain" of that "wet, ungenial summer", [Mary Shelley, "Frankenstein"; introduction to Third edition, 1831.] over three days in June the five turned to telling fantastical stories, and then writing their own. Fueled by ghost stories such as the " Fantasmagoriana", William Beckford's " Vathek" and quantities of laudanum, Mary Shelley produced what would become "Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus". Polidori was inspired by a fragmentary story of Byron's and in "two or three idle mornings" produced "The Vampyre".
Polidori's work had an immense impact on contemporary sensibilities and ran through numerous editions and translations. An adaptation appeared in 1820 with
Cyprien Bérard’s novel, "Lord Ruthwen ou les Vampires", falsely attributed to Charles Nodier, who himself then wrote his own version, "Le Vampire", a play which had enormous success and sparked a "vampire craze" across Europe. This includes operatic adaptations by Heinrich Marschnerand Peter Josef von Lindpaintner. Edgar Allan Poe, Nikolai Gogol, Alexandre Dumas, and Leo Tolstoyall produced vampire tales, and themes in Polidori's tale would continue to influence Bram Stoker's " Dracula" and eventually the whole vampire genre.
Medieval revenantfor the medieval origins of vampire-like stories.
*"A Single Summer with Lord B.", a novel (
1970) by Derek Marlowe
Christopher Frayling; "Vampyres: Lord Byron to Count Dracula" 1992. ISBN 0-571-16792-6
* [http://www.sff.net/people/DoyleMacdonald/l_frag.htm Text of Byron's fragmentary story at sff.net]
* [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=950DE7D81539F930A3575AC0A96F948260 NY Times article on the famed night]
* [http://www.timedetectives.co.uk/21.html The Vampyre Lord of Hurstbourne Priors; Historical Vampyre article]
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