Byron Challenges His Friends to a Writing “Duel”

On this date in 1816, Lord Byron challenges his four house guests at the Villa Diodati on Lake Geneva to each write a ghost story. Percy Bysshe Shelley, his wife Mary Godwin Shelley, her sister Claire Clairmont, and Byron’s doctor, John Polidori, take the challenge. Thus is born Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein.

From top left: Byron, Polidori, Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Frankenstein, Villa Diodati, Polidori's The Vampyre

From top left: Byron, Polidori, Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Frankenstein, Villa Diodati, Polidori’s The Vampyre

 

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