Open Graves, Open Minds presents:
‘Some curious disquiet’: Polidori, the Byronic vampire, and its progeny
A symposium for the bicentenary of The Vampyre
6-7 April 2019, Keats House, Hampstead
John Polidori published his tale The Vampyre in 1819. It is well known that his vampire emerged out of the same storytelling contest at the Villa Diodati in 1816 that gave birth to that other archetype of the Gothic heritage, Frankenstein’s monster. Present at this gathering were Polidori (who was Byron’s physician), Mary Godwin, Frankenstein’s author; Claire Clairmont, Percy Shelley, and (crucially) Lord Byron.
Byron’s contribution to the contest was an inconclusive fragment about a mysterious man characterised by ‘a curious disquiet’. Polidori took this fragment and turned it into the tale of the vampire Lord Ruthven, preying on the vulnerable women of society. The Vampyre was something of a sensation and spawned stage versions and imitations that were hugely popular.
Sir Christopher Frayling declares The Vampyre to be ‘the first story successfully to fuse the disparate elements of vampirism into a coherent literary genre’. Polidori gave the creature the form that largely persists through subsequent vampire narratives, transforming it from the animalistic monster of the Slavic peasantry to something that can haunt the drawing rooms of Western society, undetected. Polidori’s Lord Ruthven, modelled on Lord Byron via Lady Caroline Lamb’s scandalous Glenarvon (1818), is aristocratic and sexualised and, though something of a blank canvas, even potentially sympathetic, providing a template for the ‘Byronic hero’ that features in Gothic romance down to the paranormal romances of the present day.
More details here:
http://www.opengravesopenminds.com/polidori-symposium-2019/ or you can book direct on: https://store.herts.ac.uk/conferences-and-events/academic/humanities/some-curious-disquiet-polidori-the-byronic-vampire-and-its-progeny
£70/day waged; £40/day postgraduate and unwaged
Fee includes all talks, lunch and vampyre cup cakes, the tour of Keats House and an excursion to Highgate Cemetery (Sunday)