The Vampyre

The Vampyre

infobox short story |
name = The Vampyre
title_orig =
author = John William Polidori
country = England
language = English
genre = Horror short story
publisher = "New Monthly "magazine and universal register; London: H. Colburn, 1814-1820. Vol. 1, No. 63.
pub_date = 1 April 1819
publication_type = Magazine
media_type = Print (Periodical & Paperback)
pages = p.195-206

"The Vampyre" is a short story written by John William Polidori and is a progenitor of the romantic vampire genre of fantasy fiction.

The work is described by Christopher Frayling as "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 1819 by 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 folklore into 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 climate abnormality. Lord Byron and his young physician John Polidori were staying at the Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva and were visited by Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley and 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 Marschner and Peter Josef von Lindpaintner. Edgar Allan Poe, Nikolai Gogol, Alexandre Dumas, and Leo Tolstoy all produced vampire tales, and themes in Polidori's tale would continue to influence Bram Stoker's "Dracula" and eventually the whole vampire genre.

ee also

*Medieval revenant for 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


External links

*gutenberg|no=6087|name=The Vampyre
* [ Text of Byron's fragmentary story at]
* [ NY Times article on the famed night]
* [ The Vampyre Lord of Hurstbourne Priors; Historical Vampyre article]

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