Monday, 8 June 2009

Vampire or Vampyre?

Vampire is usually spelt with an i these days, but in the Regency period it was more commonly spelt with a y and so I decided to use that spelling in Mr Darcy, Vampyre. I also wanted to use the y spelling as a tribute to the first vampyre story, or at least the first vampyre story in print in the English language, which was called simply The Vampyre.

It was written by John Polidori, a physician who was in the employ of Lord Byron and who travelled with him to Switzerland in 1816. They stayed at the Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva in what was to prove a fruitful visit. Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary's stepsister Claire Clairmont were also at the villa and they amused themselves by reading ghost stories. Afterwards they each decided to try and write a ghost story. What a night that must have been!

Mary Godwin – later Mary Shelley, on her marriage to Percy Bysshe Shelley – started a story which would become Frankinstein and Byron wrote Fragment of a Novel, on which Polidori later based his famous story, The Vampyre.

For two such enduring stories to come out of one evening is truly remarkable. Perhaps whenever I get writers’ block I should try going to Switzerland!

2 comments:

  1. Perhaps the next story will include that night, Amanda. Lots of mileage there!
    Jen

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