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The Vampyre and Other Tales of the Macabre

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  2,467 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
John Polidori's classic tale The Vampyre (1819), was a product of the same ghost-story competition that produced Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The present volume selects thirteen other tales of mystery and the macabre, including the works of James Hogg, J.S. LeFanu, Letitia Landon, Edward Bulwer, and William Carelton. The introduction surveys the genesis and influence of Th ...more
Paperback, Oxford World's Classics, 312 pages
Published July 2nd 2001 by Oxford University Press (first published 1819)
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Bill  Kerwin

This is a companion volume to Tales from Blackwood's Magazine, containing early 19th century stories of grisly happenings and extreme psychological states culled from British magazines other than Blackwood's. The most influential piece here, of course, is "The Vampyre," originally thought to be Byron's but actually written by Byron's personal physician and cast-off middle-class toady Dr. John Polidori, a tale that turned the vampire into a 19th craze by transforming the rather shabby peasant Eas
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
This is a partial review. I read The Vampyre out of this collection, but I will read the other stories when I have the opportunity.

Review of The Vampyre by John Polidori
Read: 6/13/12
Rating: Three Stars

The history of this short story might be even more intriguing than the actual writing itself. Mr. Polidori was the personal physician of the infamous Lord Byron, and this work of fiction was conceived on that famous holiday event in which Lord Byron, Percy Shelley and Mary Godwin (who would later
classic reverie
My first encounter with Vampire stories was Bram Stroker's Dracula and then a year later Joseph Sheridan Is Fanu's Carmilla, and this year John Polidori's The Vampyre. I enjoyed all three but my favorite is Polidori's short story. There is a sadness to all but to me, The Vampyre is the most devastating of the three. This short story was one of many written in the famous ghost story competition at Villa Diodati, the famous Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was included. Polidori was Lord Byron's person ...more
Lara (Bookishsolace)
These stories were written in the early 19th century where atmosphere counted a lot. If you’re a fan of modern horror stories these ones might seem a little lame for you. The horror often focuses on the situation and psychological experience rather than physical detail so they aim for a deeper level. So if you’re looking for a classic that is really horror I would suggest reading “Dracula” by Bram Stoker.

I personally think that these are some really well written gothic fiction (however Dracula a
Mar 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror-gothic
Wow, this is a good book! The main reason why I liked it is because instead of getting beat over the head with the usual same-old, same-old, frequently anthologized horror stories ("Dracula's Guest", "The Jolly Corner", "Good Lady Ducayne" and so on), this book brings out some rarities that definitely deserve more attention.

Admittedly, a couple of the stories are rather boring - N.P. Willis' "My Hobby - Rather" (what the hell does that mean?!?) and Lever's "Post-Mortem Recollections of a Medica
Oct 29, 2008 rated it liked it
If you ever want to know where Bram Stoker got his inspiration, read The Vampyre by Polidori. Vampire tales existed before it was written, but they were monsters akin to zombies or werewolves. The aristocratic bloodsucker was Polidori's creation, and Stoker ran with it. Imagine how different the world of literature, theater and film would be if not for that. Good thing Polidori was getting tired of his patron Byron's manipulative and controlling behavior, I say!

The other stories in this book ran
Marie Williams
I'm going back and forth between whether to rate this a two or a three. It's probably a solid 2.5 stars. To be fair, I haven't finished the entire book. It was bought for the sole purpose of Polidori's The Vampyre, and I skimmed a couple of the others. There's a reason I don't get on with most early gothic (namely the melodrama) but it's worth it for the true origin of the vampire as a dark, seductive and aristocratic figure.
I read from numerous short story collections rather erratically so it could be a while before I finish this one - so instead of waiting until I've read all of these and then posting a review for the collection after I've forgotten a lot of the details (which I'll probably do as well) I am going to use his space to post mini-reviews of particularly noteworthy stories as and when I read them.

2/14 stories read

The Vampyre, John Polidori (14/06/12)

The title book of this collection, and a few words ha
Dec 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: male-author
Full review available at:

The Vampyre is a fantastic story and it features Aubery, a young man from England who meets Lord Ruthven, a mysterious English nobleman. They travel together to Rome but Aubery leaves for Greece alone when Ruthven seduces the daughter of Aubery’s friend. In Greece Aubery becomes infatuated with Ianthe, a very young girl, who tells him a tale about vampires. Later, Ruthven seduces Aubery’s sister who has a nervous breakdown. I’m not go
Max Fincher
Jun 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Many readers today might think that it was Bram Stoker's novel, 'Dracula' (1897) where the vampire story started, in English fiction at least. However, John Polidori's short story (at only 20 pages or so) is generally acknowledged to be the first prose fictionalization of the vampire as the aristocratic predator whose victims are both female and male.

Polidori was the poet Lord Byron's personal doctor, and accompanied him to Geneva with the poet Percy Shelley, and his wife, Mary Shelley. 'The Va
The Book Voucher
I spent a delightfully frighful and shuddering hour listening to John William Polidori’s The Vampyre on the LibriVox app (thumbs up, I highly recommend it), especially since I listened to the narration by Hokuspokus, in German. I love the sound of German!

My review's here.
Ricardo Lourenço
Sep 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gothic
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
review of
John Polidori's The Vampyre and Other Tales of the Macabre
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - January 15, 2014

When am I ever going to start writing those superficial capsule reviews again?! This one's "too long", see the full thing here:

The 1st time I remember running across mention of Polidori & his story "The Vampyre" was probably in Ken Russell's 1986 film Gothic. I had a brief phase of reading Gothic lit 40 yrs or so ago when I learned abo
Alexandra Barnett

I have always enjoyed tales of the macabre, ghost stories and frightening tales and so I just had to read this book when it had a collection of varied stories that are more original than what we see today, all written at some time in the C19th:

1. The Vampyre / John Polidori (1819) ☆☆☆☆
'The Vampyre' predates Le Fanu's novella Carmilla and Stoker's novel Dracula, both of which are excellent tales of the vampire myth. The Vampyre focuses on Aubrey and his association wi
Christopher Hafer
With the return of Bungalow weather, I was able to finish the ghost story competition between the legendary Lord Byron and Mary Shelley, and their physician John Polidori. Originally agreed upon in a mansion in "The Year Without a Summer", 1816, this edition contains two out of three from the competition: Polidori's The Vampyre and Lord Byron's Augustus Darvell. This edition DOES NOT include Frankenstein.

Since it was a competition, my ranking is as follows:

1] Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
2] Augu
Bethany Lundeen
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
Two good stars for the influence The Vampyre has had in later fiction, and for Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's "Passage in the Secret History of an Irish Countess." Most of the tales were bland and dense so I ended up skipping a lot of them.
Caitlin Jones
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is such a fascinating read, particularly after reading Dracula- Aubrey and Johnathan have quite a lot in common. It is more 18th century Gothic than the later vampire novels, which I like a lot. Small beginnings for a big genre.
Tom Bevan
Dec 18, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
I love this stuff. But i find reading 19th century style writing tough going. Well worth a read, if only for the Ribbonmen tale, the historical account of the murder of an innocent family by the IRA’s precursors.
Max Rudd
Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent collection of tales, most of which are new to me. Packed with enlightening explanatory notes and even a sliver of Byron.
While all the stories were enjoyable I highly recommend the offerings from Edward Bulwer, Letitia E. Landon and Allan Cunningham.
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
had to read this for class, it wasn't too bad
Sep 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Some stories vastly superior to others, took far too long to read
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ffffffrick yes
Jun 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, horror, shorts
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gothic
Having heard of the ghost story competition among Lord Byron, Mary and Percy Shelley, and Byron's physician John Polidori in the summer of 1816 beside Lake Geneva, I was eager to read Polidori's story that came out of the night, one of the founding vampire stories, especially one that moved the vampire from a rural setting to urban high society. At the 2014 Washington Antiquarian Book Festival, I actually saw a copy of the Polidori's original story, falsely attributed to Lord Byron (corrected in ...more
Feb 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fairly interesting book, and even though I didn't like all of the stories, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. The introduction had some fascinating material in it, and I learned a lot about horror stories in the early 19th century. It's given me a few books and other things to look into to learn and read more, which is always nice. As always, Polidori's The Vampyre is a fun read, even if it's not the greatest vampire story ever. This edition has some really nice supplementary material, in ...more
Jan 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: vampire-books
Alright, I successfully defended my diploma thesis yesterday (so long, university education, I’ll miss you) so I’m gonna start releasing reviews of the books I used in it. It’s not excerpts from my thesis because it wasn’t focused on that but hey, those books are still in my memory since I spent so many hours analyzing them, an therefore I can bring you my point of view.
Lord Ruthven is the first vampire to enter Anglo-American prose, and that’s why I’m going to talk rather fondly of it even tho
Timothy Morrow
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Robert Hepple
Jun 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A small collection of macabre short stories first published over the years 1819 to 1838. Most of the authors achieved a lot of success in their time, but are, arguably, rarely heard of nowadays. Some of the stories contain supernatural elements, but most rely on the macabre possibilities of the real world, and in some cases take inspiration from contemporary events like the Burke and Hare murders or the cholera epidemics of the time. The lead story ‘The Vampyre’ has a clear supernatural backgrou ...more
May 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Polidori was Byron's doctor and friend, and he was present at the famous ghost story session by Lake Geneva which led to Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein. He was the only other member of the group who got around to writing a story.
"The Vampyre" does not try to address as many concerns of the day as "Frankenstein", it is a short, straight gothic tale and a very good one. The vampyre in question may owe something to the character of Byron.
Some of the other tales are not as good, but they are
Rhianon Visinsky
Aug 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Vampyre is the original aristocratic vampire tale. Long before Dracula was written, Lord Ruthven gave vampires a good (er...good-bad) name. What's more interesting than the fictional story is the circumstances under which it may have been inspired. Lake Geneva. Lord Byron, the Shelley's, Mary Shelley's sister, and a doctor named John Polidori...stormy summer with little sun. A volcano had erupted and ruined the summer sky for everyone. A ghost story contest and a little banter between friend ...more
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Bookworm Bitches : April 2017: The Vampyre and Other Tales of the Macabre 2 97 Apr 01, 2017 10:46AM  
  • Varney the Vampire; or, The Feast of Blood
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  • Late Victorian Gothic Tales
  • In a Glass Darkly
  • The Oxford Book of Gothic Tales
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  • Dracula's Brood: Neglected Vampire Classics
  • Three Gothic Novels: The Castle of Otranto, Vathek, The Vampyre, and a Fragment of a Novel
  • The Penguin Book of Vampire Stories
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  • The Oxford Book of Victorian Ghost Stories
  • The Vampire Archives
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  • The Collected Ghost Stories of E.F. Benson
John William Polidori was an Italian English physician and writer, known for his associations with the Romantic movement and credited by some as the creator of the vampire genre of fantasy fiction.

Polidori was the oldest son of Gaetano Polidori, an Italian political émigré scholar, and Anna Maria Pierce, a governess. He had three brothers and four sisters.

He was one of the earliest pupils at recen
More about John William Polidori

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