The summer of 1816 is known throughout Europe and England as "the summer without sunshine". Following the most violent volcanic eruption known in modern times (considered a Level 7 Volcanic Eruption on a scale of 8) at Mount Tabmora in the Indonesian archipelago, there was such a great amount of dust in the atmosphere that it caused an acute but radical climactic change.
The entire summer Lord Byron had forced his friend and companion, John William Polidori, to suffer humiliation from his insults. Already considered to be a charismatic socialite whose personality was both manipulative and abusive, Lord Byron's voice was described by Amelia Opie, one of Byron's many his lovers, as being the "...voice as the devil tempted Eve with; you feared its fascination the moment you heard it".
Forced indoors due to the strange mixture of inclement weather and an almost complete lack of sunshine, the group took to reading aloud tales from the recently published "Fantasmagoriana", a French anthology of German ghost stories (based on "The Gespensterbuch", a five volume collection of German ghost and folk stories collected and rewritten by Johann August Apel and Friedrich Laun between 1811–1815). The group eventually decided to challenge one another to write, to see who could create the scariest story.
That summer, at Lord Byron's Swiss chalet, Mary Shelley wrote the notes for her classic horror story "Frankenstein, (The Modern Prometheus)", and the books "Dracula" and "The Vampyre", were conceived, as well.
John William Polidori's "The Vampyre", was an obvious opportunity for him to find catharsis by describing the destructive personality of Lord Byron while with him that summer. Three years later, in 1819, John William Polidori's "The Vampyre" was published by the New Monthly Magazine under the title “The Vampyre: A Tale by Lord Byron”, in an effort to appease Lord Byron and further humiliate John William Polidori. After several years of continued issues related to Byron's having received credit for his work, John Polidori took his own life at the age of twenty five by drinking cyanide.
“Poor Polidori,” wrote Byron when he heard the news, “it seems that disappointment was the cause of this rash act. He had entertained too sanguine hopes of literary fame.”