John William Polidori

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John William Polidori (7 September 1795 – 24 August 1821) was an English writer and physician of Italian descent. He is known for his associations with the Romantic movement and credited by some as the creator of the vampire genre of fantasy fiction. His most successful work was the 1819 short story, The Vampyre, the first vampire story in English. Although originally and erroneously accredited to Lord Byron, both Byron and Polidori affirmed that the story is Polidori's.[1]



John William Polidori was born in 1795 in London, England, the oldest son of Gaetano Polidori, an Italian political émigré scholar, and Anna Maria Pierce, an English governess. He had three brothers and four sisters.

His sister Frances Polidori married exiled Italian scholar Gabriele Rossetti, and thus John was the uncle of Maria Francesca Rossetti, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Michael Rossetti and Christina Rossetti, though they were born after his death.


Polidori was one of the earliest pupils at recently established Ampleforth College from 1804, and in 1810 went up to the University of Edinburgh, where he wrote a thesis on sleepwalking and received his degree as a doctor of medicine on 1 August 1815 at the age of 19.

In 1816 Dr. Polidori entered Lord Byron's service as his personal physician, and accompanied Byron on a trip through Europe. Publisher John Murray offered Polidori 500 English pounds to keep a diary of their travels, which Polidori's nephew William Michael Rossetti later edited[2]. At the Villa Diodati, a house Byron rented by Lake Geneva in Switzerland, the pair met with Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, and her husband-to-be, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and their companion (Mary's stepsister) Claire Clairmont.

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