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The Vampyre Family: Passion, Envy and The Curse of Byron Hardcover – 7 Nov 2013
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"The Vampyre Family is a thrilling tale about the pursuit of love, sex and fame. Andrew McConnell Stott provides a dual portrait of the Romantic spirit during its most intense period of creativity, and uncovers the emotional devastation that was left in its wake" (AMANDA FOREMAN, the bestselling author of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire)
Praise for THE PANTOMIME LIFE OF JOSEPH GRIMALDI:
'Brilliant . . . As a portrait of London life in all its mutinous and anarchic variety this book would be hard to beat" (Spectator)
"A fast-paced rumbustious biography . . . Stott evokes both the dizzying excitement and the harshness of theatrical life" (Jenny Uglow Observer)
"[A] great big Christmas pudding of a book, almost over-stuffed with rich and colourful life" (Guardian 'Book of the Week')
"Stott's dynamic dramatization grabs our attention, and we, too, as outsiders [like Claire and Polidori], are cannily lured into the poetic celebrity's inner circle" (Times Literary Supplement)
A glittering new group biography from the award winning author of The Pantomime Life of Joseph GrimaldiSee all Product description
Top Customer Reviews
I read this because I enjoyed his biography of Joseph Grimaldi, and before reading Vampyre I knew little of the Family members beyond the Frankenstein competition anecdote. I therefore can't confirm to ardent fans or students of Byron/the Shelleys that they will learn new facts about their subject by reading this, although the text certainly busts one Byron myth that the BBC's QI team broadcast unchallenged.
It isn't intended as a Byron biography anyway, and commences around the time of the poet's self-imposed exile in 1816. With Byron & the Shelleys' histories already thoroughly publicised, Vampyre emphasises instead the misadventures of "poor" Polidori (Byron's volatile doctor), and Mary Shelley's step-sister Claire (mother to one of Byron's children); the "other two" participants in the Villa Diodati competition that yielded Frankenstein.
Both played rather sad thwarted foils to the three successful Romantic celebrities they lived with, and Stott presents them compassionately & thoroughly, although never to the dry depths of laundry list statistics, nor by breaking the narrative with endless footnotes, as some biographers are prone to do (his research, however, is detailed at the end of the book - great for further reading).
The result is not altogether cheerful - these people did not treat each other well, and in some cases seemed unable to be happy. When I cried near the end it wasn't through a sense of losing some heroic set of wonderful characters, but with regret at what they endured, from their own minds, natural accidents, and each other's choices.Read more ›
The Vampyre Family is a fascinating book, not least because it provides a new angle on a familiar story. Anyone with an interest in the Romantics will know that the events at the Villa Diodati - with the fireside discussions of galvanism and ghost stories on the one hand and the intoxicating mixture of sexual tension and incessant thunder storms on the other - ultimately led to the writing of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein and Polidori's short story The Vampyre; two works which have fascinated and influenced subsequent generations ever since. What The Vampyre Family does brilliantly however is address in detail the events leading up to the summer of 1816 together with the aftermath for those who were there. Byron, as is always the case with Byron, steals the show but Polidori and Claire Clairmont in particular emerge from the book as rounded, passionate, flawed and very human characters.Read more ›