|Polidori was Lord Byron's personal physician and was present in
the Chateau near Geneva on that famous evening in 1816 when , after
regaling his guests with Germanic ghostly tales, Byron proposed all
present should write a supernatural tale. This was, of course, the
occasion that give rise to Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, as well as
Polidori's The Vampyre.
Whilst clearly not as successful as Frankenstein it is still an important and celebrated work, being the first gothic vampire novel written in the English language. It was first published in book form in England by Sherwood, Neely and Jones in 1819 and had a somewhat complicated start. The story first appeared in Colburn's New Monthly Magazine on 1st April 1819, however Colburn substituted Polidori's name with that of Lord Byron in the belief that this would increase demand.
Before the magazine was published Colburn had the book printed, retaining a few sets of sheets, the rest were sold to Sherwood, Neely and Jones who entered it at Stationers Hall 27.3.1819. In April Polidori wrote to Colburn stressing his rights as the author and Byron himself wrote several letters disclaiming the work.
The result was a change in title pages, there were a selection of trial prints done with an anonymous title page being the final choice for public distribution. Copies do exist with the title 'a tale related by Lord Byron to Dr. Polidori'. There is also a state naming Lord Byron alone. A third issue was produced with the preface letter 'Extract of a Letter from Geneva' being revised by Colburn. Polidori used this edition to fully revise the text for the publication of the second edition.
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