Recent Acquisitions feature: Fantasmagoriana

As we prepare for our Recent Acquisitions Evening on March 22, we continue to feature some of the items that will be on display.

Among them is Fantasmagoriana.

A French anthology of ghost stories published in 1812, Fantasmagoriana is famous for its influence on some of the most well-known and earliest gothic horror writers.

On a trip to Geneva in 1816, Lord Byron, Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Claire Clairmont, and John William Polidori found themselves housebound because of terrible weather. To pass the time, they took turns reading to each other from Fantasmagoriana, and then challenged each other to tell their own ghost stories.

Mary Shelley told the story that would become her classic Frankenstein; Polidori’s tale became The Vampyre.

And while those novels became wildly popular, sparking their own literary descendants and continuing to be sold two hundred years later, copies of Fantasmagoriana are incredibly rare. The New York Public Library holds the only other known copy in the United States.

The RBC copy of Fantasmagoriana is distinctive: bound in at the end is a series of additional gothic short stories in manuscript.


This and many other items will be on display at the Rare Book Collection’s Recent Acquisitions Evening, a not-under-glass display of some of the Collection’s notable acquisitions. We hope you’ll join us on March 22 for the unique opportunity to see these remarkable items up close.

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