The Year Without a Summer
Naturally, it all began on a dark and stormy night. In the Summer of 1816, it was this villa that renowned poet Lord Byron played host to the likes of physician John Polidori, fellow poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, his 19-year old lover Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin and her stepsister Claire Clairmont. 1816 came to be known as the "Year Without a Summer" because of an unusual weather system that saw average warmer Summer temperatures plummet worldwide, destroying crops and causing a worldwide food shortage. The weather abberation was believed to be caused by a series of volcanic explosions in the Philippines and the Carribean, cultivating with the eruption of Mount Tabor in what is today's Indonesia.
Because of the wet and unseasoningly cold weather, the group were forced to stay inside the villa for warmth. They occupied themselves by reading a collection of ghost stories from the book, Fantasmagoriana. The book was a French translation of stories collected from the first two volumes of the five volume German ghost story anthology, Das Gespensterbuch. It was then that Lord Byron suggested that the group should all write their own ghost stories.
Birth of Frankenstein
Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin would soon marry Percy and become Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. Despite the fact that her now-husband gave up on the endeavor, Mary had an inspiration. While initially drawing a blank for an idea, Mary had a waking dream of a man standing over a corpse of re-assembled body parts that suddenly showed signs of life. The idea took root and two years later in 1818, Mary Shelley published her "ghost story," Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus.
Birth of the Modern Vampire
John William Polidori at the time served as Lord Byron's personal physician. Byron's contribution was also quickly abandoned, but the story fragment he did write was based around folklore about the vampire myth. Polidori took the idea further and quickly came up with his own version. In 1819, he published The Vampyre. The story was wrongly attributed to Lord Byron and for many years and many denials, there was a mass confusion about who wrote the tale. Perhaps because of the Byron rumor, the story was an instant success. While there had been some vampire fiction published before, The Vampyre is considered to be the birth of romantic vampire tales, transforming the vampire from mythical monster to the aristocratic stalker that we all know today.
The Villa Today
While it is known that there is a commemorative tablet at the Villa Diodati (as well as a rock dedicated to Lord Byron along Chemin de Ruth 9), the current tourism status of the building is unknown. We are trying to find out if it is open to the public or whether it is a private residence now. As soon as we find out, we will update this page.