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Lake Eerie

Victor Frankenstein and his ‘creature’ from a late 19th-century book cover

Lake Geneva, seen on a sunny day, is not the likeliest of settings for a work of horror. But in 1816, ash clouds from the eruption of Indonesia’s Mount Tambora resulted in a ‘year without a summer’, a prolonged period of dismal weather, and also one of our best-loved works of Gothic literature. At a gathering in the Swiss Alps, Lord Byron and his guests, including Percy Bysshe Shelley and his soon-to-be wife Mary, took turns in telling spinechilling tales while cooped up in Villa Diodati. And so Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein was born. Two hundred years on, the villa remains private property, but literary pilgrims can ogle the mansion from the small park on the winding Chemin Byron, before taking a boat trip on Lake Geneva. Over the border in France, Mont Salève offers even wider panoramas: Frankenstein’s monster scaled its cliff face by hand, but now a cable car provides an easier ascent.


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Lonely Planet
April 2016

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