On 27 May 1816, Lord Byron and Percy Shelley met on the shores of Lake Geneva. Byron was accompanied by his doctor, John Polidori, and Shelley by his mistress, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, and her step-sister, Claire Clairmont. The two groups met by Claire’s design: she and Byron had briefly been lovers, and it was at her instigation that Shelley and Mary had decided to journey to Switzerland.
In persuading Shelley and Mary that they should visit Geneva, Claire unwittingly set the stage for one of the most famous summers in literary history. Byron and Shelley became friends; the whole group embraced the