John William Polidori’s classic gothic horror tale, The Vampyre, recounts one of the first vampire stories in English literature.
Lord Ruthven is a mysterious newcomer among England’s social elite. A young gentleman named Aubrey is fascinated by the suave stranger and is intrigued by his often curious behaviour. While travelling in Europe amid rumours of vampire killings, the pair are attacked, leaving Ruthven on his death bed. As he draws his last breaths, he pleads with Aubrey to keep his death a secret for just over a year. When Ruthven reappears in London alive and well, Aubrey realises that his friend might be hiding dark and horrifying truths behind his seductive fabrication.
The Vampyre was written during the ‘Lost Summer of 1816’, when John William Polidori was among the group of friends who accompanied Lord Byron to the Villa Diodati on Lake Geneva. This short, stormy stay in the mansion led to a horror story writing competition in which famous tales such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein were first produced.
Decadent, sinister, and macabre The Vampyre started the enduring fascination with bloodsucking monsters that produced stories such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula. This chilling tale is not to be missed by lovers of fantasy and horror fiction.