Rebellion, treachery, and glamour: Lady Caroline Lamb’s Glenarvon and the Byronic vampire
by Dr. Bill Hughes
April 2022, 6.30-8pm
PHYSICAL – Art Workers Guild, London
Ticket Price: £5.00
Wine reception 6.30 pm
Lecture at 7.00 pm
Dinner from 8.00 pm
In ‘The Vampyre’, John Polidori famously transformed the grotesque monster of East European folklore into its sophisticated aristocratic literary avatar.
His importance cannot be denied but he did not quite get there first; his harnessing of the Byronic persona as political satire and Gothic motif drew on his own troubled relationship with the poet, but also on Lady Caroline Lamb’s notorious roman à clef, Glenarvon (1816). Lamb turned her own attraction-repulsion to the poet into a Gothic and sentimental fiction of amatory seduction and betrayal alongside political revolt. Here, the eponymous Glenarvon is notably Byronic, feeding off Byron’s own self-fashioning and Lamb’s mimicry of him, while drawing on Milton and Richardson.
Dr Bill Hughes considers how Polidori’s revision of Ruthven inaugurates a literary archetype – an aristocratic demon lover who is both Byronic and a vampire. Lamb and Polidori thus inspire a series of vampiric heroes from the Brontës to the Gothic Romance of Du Maurier and others, and the sympathetic vampires of paranormal romances such as Twilight; he is ‘arch fiend’ and ‘fallen angel’, and howls at the moon (his ancestor drinks blood from a skull).
Art Workers Guild
6 Queen Square
London WC1N 3AT
There will be a dinner for those who wish to join, details will be confirmed closer to the time.