This classic vampire story has inspired generations of authors, from Bram Stoker to Charlaine Harris.
A young English gentleman of means, Aubrey is immediately intrigued by Lord Ruthven, the mysterious newcomer among society’s elite. His unknown origin and curious behavior tantalizes Aubrey’s imagination. But the young man soon discovers a sinister character hidden behind his new friend’s glamorous facade.
When the two are set upon by bandits while traveling together in Europe, Ruthven is fatally injured. Before drawing his last breath, he makes the odd request that Aubrey keep his death and crimes secret for a year and a day. But when Ruthven resurfaces in London—making overtures toward Aubrey’s sister—Aubrey realizes this immortal fiend is a vampyre.
John William Polidori’s The Vampyre is both a classic tale of gothic horror and the progenitor of the modern romantic vampire myth that has been fodder for artists ranging from Anne Rice to Alan Ball to Francis Ford Coppola. Originally published in 1819, many decades before Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and misattributed to Polidori’s friend Lord Byron, The Vampyre has kept readers up at night for nearly two hundred years.
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About the author
John William Polidori (1795–1821) is credited as the creator of the modern vampire story and the fantasy subgenre. Polidori received his degree as a doctor of medicine at the University of Edinburgh, and soon afterward, he became the personal physician of writer Lord Byron. One night in 1816, Polidori, Byron, Mary Shelley, and Percy Shelley decided to write ghost stories together. On this night, Polidori’s classic novella The Vampyre was conceived. The story was published anonymously without Polidori’s permission in New Monthly Magazine, but he later took credit for the work. Polidori spent his later years deeply depressed and fell into debt from gambling. It is rumored that Polidori committed suicide at the age of twenty-six. His revolutionary treatment of vampire as a romantic figure continues to inspire writers in the romantic and horror genres.
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