my own vampire
So entwined are the fortunes of Victor Frankenstein's Creature and
vampires in twentieth-century popular culture, that to many it comes as a
shock to realize that Bram Stoker's
Dracula dates from three-quarters of a century after Mary Shelley's
novel. And yet, the subject matters were entwined from the beginning.
The story that Lord Byron vowed to
produce for the Gothic competition of the summer of 1816 was to be called The Vampyre. In the end he
dropped it, and the account was picked up and finished by John Polidori, Byron's personal
physician during this summer, who then published his novella with the same title as by
Byron so as to increase its circulation.
Vampires were rather new on the literary scene at this point: general
legendary knowledge about them actually stemmed from a single source, the
incorporation of a vampire in Robert Southey's exotic and very popular
oriental romance, Thalaba the Destroyer (1801). Although the figure
appears in only one stanza, it
afforded Southey the opportunity to show off his learning in a ten-page
note. Since Percy Shelley was
greatly enamored of this poem, even reading it aloud to Mary and Claire Clairmont on successive evenings
in September 1814, there is
little doubt that Mary had this account in mind in drawing upon vampire
imagery for Frankenstein.