148E: POLIDORI. The Vampyre; A Tale. first edition
[POLIDORI, John William (1795 - 1821)]. The Vampyre; A Tale.
London: Printed for Sherwood, Neely and Jones, 1819. 8vo (225 x 140 mm). Half-title, "Extract of a letter from Lake Geneva" and "Extract of a letter, containing an account of Lord Byron's residence in the island of Mitylene" both present, publisher's ads dated "Jan. 1819" at rear, all edges untrimmed. Original brown wrappers, calligraphically titled in manuscript on upper cover. Condition: light foxing to preliminaries; wrapper with chipping with small loss at foot of spine. Provenance: Unknown signtatures to upper cover and title possibly "J. Eagle." first edition, second printing. As Polidori's tale was being prepared for print in the April 1819 issue of New Monthly Magazine, editor Henry Colburn attempted to print the story in book form. Colburn purposefully printed the first sheets attributing the work to Lord Byron rather than Polidori. Publishers Sherwood, Neely and Jones did offer one printing with the incorrect leaves, which was quickly suppressed. This first issue is virtually non-existant, and only one example of the Sherwood, Neely and Jones first printing is known. The sheets for the title and half-title were reset to exclude Lord Byron's name, but also Polidori's, as is found here. A watershed work in the development of the genre, Polidor's work is considered the first vampire story. Polidori, a trained medical doctor and physician to Lord Byron, travelled with Byron and others including Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin and Percy Bysshe Shelley to Villa Diodati at Lake Geneva in Switzerland. There, after reading aloud from a book entitled Tales of the Dead, Byron challenged the group to each compose their own horror tale. The result of this for Polidori was The Vampyre. This story is retold in the Extract of a letter from Lake Geneva, and a special footnote at its conclusion reports the publishing of Frankenstein, one of the earliest references to that other seminal work of the genre.