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In the summer of 1816 paparazzi trained their telescopes on Byron and the Shelleys across Lake Geneva. Mary Shelley babysat and wrote Frankenstein. Byron dieted and penned The Prisoner of Chillon. His doctor, Polidori, was dreaming up The Vampyre. Together they put Switzerland on the map.
From Rousseau to Nabokov, le Carré to Conan Doyle, Hemingway to Hesse to Highsmith, Switzerland has always provided a refuge for writers as an escape from world wars, oppression, tuberculosis... or marriage. For Swiss writers from the country was like a gilded prison. The Romantics, the utopians and other spiritual seekers viewed Switzerland as a land of milk and honey, as nature's paradise. In the twentieth century, spying in neutral Switzerland spawned the finest espionage and crime fiction.
Part detective work, part treasure chest, The Gilded Chalet takes you on a grand tour of the birthplace of our best-loved stories, revealing how Switzerland became the landscape of our imagination.