The son of an Italian father and English mother, Polidori was educated at Ampleforth College and the University of Edinburgh where he received his degree in medicine in 1815. The following year he was employed by Lord Byron as his personal physician and secretary. He accompanied Byron on his European travels and was in attendance at Byron's rented villa on Lake Geneva in Switzerland. Together with the Shelleys and Byron, and after reading various supernatural tales, it was decided that each should write a 'ghost' story. The result was Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Polidori's The Vampyre. Byron and Percy Shelley never completed theirs, however Byron later published A Fragment which had been his attempt. Polidori's story was subsequently published in the New Monthly Magazine in 1819 and was initially attributed to Byron which helped to make it a success. Polidori was dismissed by Byron and, after traveling in Italy for a time, he returned to London. He attempted unsuccessfully to obtain a position at Ampleforth and began suffering from severe depression. He is said to have committed suicide by drinking prussic acid at his home in Soho, aged only 25. The Vampyre represents the first vampire story written in English and became the basis for subsequent works on the subject. Polidori's other works include his diary, which was highly censored by his sister Charlotte and appeared in 1911, and his poem The Fall of Angels (1821 posthumous).
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