The Poet and the Vampyre: The Curse of Byron and the Birth of Literature's Greatest Monsters

The Poet and the Vampyre: The Curse of Byron and the Birth of Literature's Greatest Monsters

by Andrew McConnell Stott


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Love affairs, literary rivalries, and the supernatural collide in an inspired journey to Lake Geneva, where Byron, the Shelleys, and John Polidori come together to create literature’s greatest monsters

In the spring of 1816, Lord Byron was the greatest poet of his generation and the most famous man in Britain, but his personal life was about to erupt. Fleeing his celebrity, notoriety, and debts, he sought refuge in Europe, taking his young doctor with him. As an inexperienced medic with literary aspirations of his own, Doctor John Polidori could not believe his luck.

That summer another literary star also arrived in Geneva. With Percy Bysshe Shelley came his lover, Mary, and her step-sister, Claire Clairmont. For the next three months, this party of young bohemians shared their lives, charged with sexual and artistic tensions. It was a period of extraordinary creativity: Mary Shelley started writing Frankenstein, the gothic masterpiece of Romantic fiction; Byron completed Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, his epic poem; and Polidori would begin The Vampyre, the first great vampire novel.

It was also a time of remarkable drama and emotional turmoil. For Byron and the Shelleys, their stay by the lake would serve to immortalize them in the annals of literary history. But for Claire and Polidori, the Swiss sojourn would scar them forever.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781605988580
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication date: 09/15/2015
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 1,161,243
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Andrew McConnell Stott is the author of The Pantomime Life of Joseph Grimaldi, which won the Royal Society of Literature Prize, the Sheridan Morley Prize for Theatre Biography, and was a Guardian Best Book of the Year. The Poet and the Vampyre is his first book to be published in America. In 2011, Stott was named a Fellow at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. He is a Professor of English at the University of Buffalo, SUNY. Please visit his website at

Table of Contents

List of Illustration xiii

Prelude 1

Chapter 1 St George's Day 3

Chapter 2 Directions for John 20

Chapter 3 The Footing of an Equal 41

Chapter 4 That Odd-headed Girl 56

Chapter 5 Here is a Man 76

Chapter 6 An Empire's Dust 93

Chapter 7 Young Tahitians 110

Chapter 8 A Star in the Halo of the Moon 128

Chapter 9 Fog of the Jura 150

Chapter 10 To Die of Joy 168

Chapter 11 The Hero of Milan 186

Chapter 12 Household Gods 208

Chapter 13 The Vampyre 230

Chapter 14 Sea Sodom 251

Chapter 15 Torn Clouds Before the Hurricane 272

Epilogue 294

Acknowledgements 309

Notes 313

Bibliography 401

Index 417

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The Poet and the Vampyre: The Curse of Byron and the Birth of Literature's Greatest Monsters 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
DarkRavenDH More than 1 year ago
The Poet and the Vampyre ( The Curse of Byron and the Birth of Literature’s Greatest Monsters) by Andrew McConnell Scott I agree with the general consensus that the title and subtitle of this book is somewhat misleading. I really expected the focus to be on that enclave of writers in Geneva in the summer of 1816; where Mary Shelly began Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus and Doctor John Polidori began The Vampyre. Byron did complete Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, but the other’s stories or poems did not survive the test of time. The absolute thrill of those days at the Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva, Switzerland would have been great as they bounced ideas off each other and the tales of horror grew. This is more Byron and less on the creation process of the monsters. Even focusing only on Lord Byron’s descent from world class poet to madman dying of syphilis, the book had the potential to be something amazing. This book contains a lot of information, yet it is the type of book one would expect as required reading for a collage course. I was disappointed with the book, yet I cannot dismiss it completely. I will grant it three stars. It is neither very good nor very bad; it just doesn’t rise to the promise of the title. Quoth the Raven...