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It was the most famous gathering in English literary history. In May, 1816, Lord Byron and Percy Shelley rented neighbouring house on the shores of Lake Geneva.

One rainy day, Byron came up with an idea - and one that was to change the course of literature. "We will each write a ghost story," he declared.

His companions - the dazzling poet Shelley and his 18-year old mistress Mary, the handsome, neurotic doctor Polidori, and Byron himself - on the run from England after an incestuous affair - all took up the challenge.

Over the course of that wet summer by the shores of Lake Geneva, the novel Frankenstein - conceived by Mary Shelley after a nightmare - was born; while Byron began one of the first Vampire stories ever written.

But what happened to the original tales that brilliant group of companions told one other during the gloomy Swiss evenings?

In the 'Ghosts of Geneva' series Kate Hoyland reconstructs the tales they told, and the complex, interwoven lives of that extraordinary summer.

In the last of the 'Ghosts of Geneva' stories, The Black Stone, the poet Shelley tells of a haunted childhood. A young Squire attempts to evict a family of poor weavers from his land - but a strange encounter with the family's beautiful daughter sets him on the road to guilt, fear and obsession.

Ghosts of Geneva is the last in a brilliant series of novellas certain to appeal to fans of classic English literature, devotees of Victorian historical fiction, and followers of historical novelists such as Sarah Waters.

Kate Hoyland is the author of the gripping novel, 'The Icarus Diaries'. For many years she was a producer for the BBC World Service, specialising in Asian and International news. She now lives in London with her young son.



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