In Switzerland 1816, by the shore of Lake Geneva, the poet Shelley and his future wife Mary, together with her step-sister Claire, meet the infamous Lord Byron. All are in exile, self-imposed on Shelley's part, more serious for Byron, and find they are natural allies in a world which is threatened by their radical politics and unconventional attitudes to sexual freedom. Close friendships and treacherous affairs are begun, and a journal that bears witness to it all is kept by Byron's companion and doctor, William Polidori. And on one particular evening, in a thunderstorm, stories are told that are to inspire Mary Shelley to create the myth of Frankenstein.
Did the Moon shining into Mary Shelley's bedroom in June 1816 play a part in the genesis of her Frankenstein story? Forensic astronomer Don Olson has been investigating by charting the Moon's historical path over Lake Geneva and surrounding hills.
How did the Gothic style manage to both sensationalise the public and form, quite literally the pillars of the establishment? Any why does a style forged in the spectral shadows of the Ages of Enlightenment still hold so such a secure position in popular culture today.
Stoker's vampire has spawned over a thousand films and still counting, shaped popular culture and though it has been a hundred years since the death of Bram Stoker, interest in his charismatic vampire does not seem to be on the wane. So where did Stoker get the idea for his iconic blood-sucking Count?
Mariella Frostrup presents the books magazine. She talks to the Italian writer Niccolo Ammaniti, the author of I'm Not Scared, about his new novel The Crossroads. And the editor of a new edition of Bram Stoker's Dracula discusses some contentious aspects of this Gothic classic.