The Vampyre, and Other Tales of the Macabre

By Robert Morrison; Chris Baldick | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

IN the autumn of 1818 the London New Monthly Magazine came into possession of a package of documents that was certain to cause a literary sensation. It contained not just a letter retailing a few precious nuggets of gossip about the exploits of Byron and Shelley during their sojourn by Lake Geneva in the summer of 1816, but also what appeared to be an original prose story composed by Lord Byron himself, at this time the most famous living writer in the world. Better still, this prose tale, entitled The Vampyre, seemed to follow the pattern of Byron's best-known poetical productions-- Childe Harold's Pilgrimage ( 1812-18) and Manfred ( 1817)--by incorporating a strong element of confessional self-portraiture, but this time treating the familiar figure of the accursed outlaw in even more lurid terms as a bloodsucking demon or 'vampyre' with the tell-tale name of Lord Ruthven--clearly an echo of another recent fictional portrayal of Byron as Clarence de Ruthven, Lord Glenarvon in the novel Glenarvon ( 1816) by Lady Caroline Lamb, Byron's cast-off mistress. The story seemed, then, to have Byron written all over it, lacking only the authentication of his signature.

To the New Monthly's proprietor, Henry Colburn, disappointed by sluggish sales of his magazine, and alarmed at the great success of its new Scottish rival, Blackwood's Magazine, the package from Geneva came as a godsend. He set his staff to work in preparation for the coming literary coup, commissioning an explanatory introduction that could illuminate for a readership still largely unfamiliar with vampire-lore the nature and literary lineage of the curious body of East European folk beliefs embodied in The Vampyre. The prefatory account of 'this singularly horrible superstition' was probably written by Colburn's sub-editor Alaric Watts, who also prepared an editorial statement to appear above the "'Letter from Geneva'" and the other preliminary materials, noting cautiously that

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The Vampyre, and Other Tales of the Macabre
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements vi
  • Introduction vii
  • Note on the Text xxiii
  • Select Bibliography xxv
  • Chronology of the Magazines xxvii
  • The Vampyre 3
  • Sir Guy Eveling''s Dream 25
  • Confessions of a Reformed Ribbonman 33
  • Monos and Daimonos 53
  • The Master of Logan 63
  • The Victim 87
  • Some Terrible Letters from Scotland 99
  • The Curse 113
  • Life in Death 129
  • My Hobby,--Rather 139
  • The Red Man 143
  • Post-Mortem Reflections of a Medical Lecturer 165
  • The Bride of Lindorf 175
  • Passage in the Secret History of an Irish Countess 201
  • Appendix A- PRELIMINARIES FOR THE VAMPYRE 235
  • Appendix B- NOTE ON THE VAMPYRE 244
  • Appendix C- AUGUSTUS DARVELL 246
  • Biographical Notes 253
  • Explanatory Notes 257
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