Year Without Summer


Notes: The narcotic sweetness of opium blended with the blackest amber, spilled coffee, a hint of bitter green cannabis.

“One night we enjoyed a finer storm than I had ever before beheld.” Mary Shelley, letter from Lake Geneva

The group gathered at Byron’s lakeside Villa Diodati had come expecting boating and mountain hikes in picturesque Switzerland. Instead, thanks to the eruption of Mount Tambora, nearly 8,000 miles away, they were stuck with frequent storms and freezing temperatures. They were young, they were notorious, and they found ways to entertain themselves. The couplings were practically incestuous, the wine flowed freely, and so did the laudanum, a tonic laced with opium.

While the rain beat against the windows and winds whipped the nearby lake, the group read ghost stories and when they tired of that, Byron issued a challenge. A challenge that would change history and conjure forth monsters that haunt our collective unconscious even today.

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