Alexandra Harris

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night…

Tambora: The Eruption that Changed the World

By

Princeton University Press 293pp £19.95 order from our bookshop

Jane Austen looked out dismally at the puddled fields and drowned crops around Chawton. Coleridge sat awake through nights of violent summer storms, marvelling at ‘this end of the world weather’. Most famously, the Shelleys watched the storms over Lake Geneva and started to tell each other ghost stories, one of which took on a life of its own as Frankenstein. Byron, who was with them, wrote a poem called ‘Darkness’ in which the ‘icy earth/Swung blind and blackening’. 

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