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 John William Polidori

John William Polidori

Soho, City of Westminster, Greater London, England
Death 24 Aug 1821 (aged 25)
Soho, City of Westminster, Greater London, England
Burial St Pancras, London Borough of Camden, Greater London, England
Plot churchyard, unmarked
Memorial ID 13248870 · View Source
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The son of an Italian political refugee and an English governess, John studied to become a doctor and was fascinated by the darker side of medicine. He received his degree at the very young age of 19 after presenting a thesis on somnambulism. He entered the service of Lord Byron as his personal physician in 1816 and they both travelled to the Continent. At the Villa Diodati on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland, they met with the poet Shelley, his wife to be Mary Godwin, and her step sister/companion, Claire Clairmont. On that infamous night they told each other ghost stories which led to the creation of Mary's Frankenstein and John's The Vampyre (published in 1819). The vampire in the story, Lord Ruthven, appeared for the first time as aristocratic, attractive and mysterious rather than an evil-looking creature. He was based on Byron himself and was also the first English vampire; in stories before John's own they were all European. The Vampyre was also an inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula and many others. John is often uncredited as a major influence for Frankenstein, with his talks about re-animating corpses and medical knowledge discussed at the villa. After leaving Byron's service, John travelled through Italy and then returned to England where he worked as a doctor in Norwich in 1817, suffering a serious carriage accident which may have been a suicide attempt. He gave up his career as a physician around 1820, but began training to be a barrister soon after. Besides The Vampyre, John wrote several poems and essays, along with one other novel and tried out several careers. John committed suicide with prussic acid in his house in Soho, just 2 weeks before his 26th birthday. The coroner's verdict of "natural causes" or "death by the visitation of God" was reached in order to preserve the reputation of his family and without any respect towards John as the evidence was covered up. His grave was one of the 7000 disinterred to make room for the railway in the late 1800s. Uncle of the artistic Rossetti siblings, he was given no respect and almost no recognition during his lifetime, but now people are starting to give him the respect he deserves and credit for creating vampires as we know them today.

Cause Of Death: Suicide.

Gravesite Details Many thanks to Mark McManus for allowing me to maintain ownership of this memorial and another big thank you to In Memory for sponsoring it!
  • Maintained by: indigo_rain
  • Originally Created by: Mark McManus
  • Added: 6 Feb 2006
  • Find A Grave Memorial 13248870
  • In Memory
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for John William Polidori (7 Sep 1795–24 Aug 1821), Find A Grave Memorial no. 13248870, citing St Pancras Old Church Churchyard, St Pancras, London Borough of Camden, Greater London, England ; Maintained by indigo_rain (contributor 47077409) .