John Polidori

1795 (London) – 1821 (London)

While Polidori is a footnote to romanticist literature, he was present at a critical juncture. As a recently-qualified doctor aged just 20 or 21, he was taken on by Byron as his personal physician and accompanied him on a European journey. They met up with the Shelleys, and according to the well-known story, concocted ghost stories one evening. Percy Shelley’s contribution is forgotten, Polidori came up with ‘The Vampyre’ (he tried to pass it off as Byron’s, as likelier to sell), while Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ became the best-known. Uncle to Dante Gabriel and Christina Rossetti, Polidori’s probable suicide aged 26 preceded their births.