3 December 2007
THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN
[POLIDORI, John William (1795-1821)]. The Vampyre. London: Sherwood, Neely, and Jones, 1819.
8o (210 x 132 mm). (Lacking half-title.) Modern blue morocco, spine gilt-lettered, top edge gilt (some minor rubbing along joints). Provenance: pencilled annotations on a few leaves.
FIRST EDITION IN BOOK FORM, second issue, with Byron's name removed from the title-page and with "almost" misspelled in the last line on p. 36. Polidori was Lord Byron's personal physician in Geneva and was present during the famous story-telling competition at Villa Diodati on 19 July 1816, which gave birth to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and also seems to be the basis for Polidori's Vampyre. First published in Henry Colburn's New Monthly Magazine in April 1819, Byron was given credit as the author of the tale, which he quickly disavowed in a letter to Galignani's Messenger. He wrote: "If the book is clever, it would be base to deprive the real writer, whoever he may be, of his honours; and if stupid, I desire the responsibility of nobody's dullness by my own." Wise Byron II, p.71-72; Wolff 5577.
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