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POLIDORI, John William.

The Vampyre; A Tale.

London: Sherwood, Neely, and Jones, 1819 Stock Code: 141658
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First edition, in the second and earliest realistically obtainable issue, of this seminal vampire novella. This attractive, untrimmed, copy is beautifully presented in a 20th-century morocco binding signed "J.G. 81" to the rear turn-in. It additionally, and highly unusually, has two sets of integral publisher's advertisements bound to the rear, dating 2 November and 1 March 1818.

The Vampyre was first published on 1 April 1819 in Henry Colburn's New Monthly Magazine, with the subtitle "A Tale by Lord Byron", and soon after issued for the first time in book form by Sherwood, Neely and Jones with Byron's name on the title. Polidori sought an injunction against Colburn, while Byron disowned the piece and published his own vampire "Fragment" at the end of Mazeppa by way of a disclaimer. This second issue was then produced without Byron's name on the title. It is distinguishable from third and later issues by the "Extract of a letter from Geneva" preface including salacious reference on p. xiv to Byron having "in his house two sisters Mary Shelley and Claire Claremont as the partakers of his revels", a scandalous suggestion to which the sisters objected. This preface was set in 24 lines, and the corrected version set in 23. The third and later issues are the ones usually met with, this second is scarce, and the first unobtainably rare: "only one copy of the Sherwood, Neely, and Jones first issue seems to have survived, now in the Library of the British Museum" (Viets, p. 96).

"Although by no means the first appearance of the vampire in European literature, Polidori's tale established the prototype later developed in Sheridan Lefanu's Carmilla and Bram Stoker's Dracula" (ODNB). Although the book was successful, Polidori made little from it, and committed suicide two years later.

While many copies of the first edition are found bound without adverts Wise calls for a 12-page catalogue found at the end of the work. The present copy has clearly been bound from the wrappers, untrimmed, with the adverts bound within the two integral blanks. This and then corresponding faint marginal toning indicates the adverts are a variant issued coincidentally and not noted by Wise.

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Octavo (227 x 136 mm). Entirely untrimmed in 20th-century red morocco-backed patterned paper boards with red morocco fore edges, spine lettered and tooled in blind in 6 compartments, with raised bands, paper watermarked "1818/G".


With the half-title and two sets of publisher's ads: the first 16 pp. dated 2 November 1818, the second 4 pp. dated 1 March 1818.


Negligible rubbing to bottom edges of boards, a fine copy with light marginal toning, skilful paper repair to half-title and final blank.


Viets, "The London Editions of Polidori's 'The Vampyre'", Bibliographical Society of America (1969), III; Wolff 5577.


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