The Trip That Changed Monster History
In the summer of 1816, Mary Godwin, her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, John William Polidori, and Claire Clairmont visited Lord Byron in Geneva, Switzerland. Due to bad weather, the group mostly read German ghost stories to entertain themselves. This inspired the group to write their own supernatural stories and see who could come up with the best one.
Mary retired for the evening and had a dream which she based Frankenstein on. She imagined it as a short story and wrote the first few chapters in a relatively short time. With Percy’s encouragement and editing, she turned it into a full-fledged novel.
Frankenstein was published anonymously in 1818. Most critics at the time assumed that it was Percy who had written the book, but modern critics cite the long narratives and triple narrator as evidence of an inexperienced writer, like Mary was. She first received a writing credit on the 1823 reprint.
Lord Byron only managed fragments of stories for the writing contest, including one based on German Vampire legends. John William Polidori used part of Byron’s idea as the inspiration for his own story, The Vampyre. The notion of the charming vampire, one who is invited into a home, a transfixing gaze, and the sucking of blood are just a few of the elements that trace their beginnings to The Vampyre. Bram Stoker wrote the world’s most famous vampire story, Dracula, 70 years after The Vampyre.2