Article Index

- Cut to the early nineteenth century and then the Victorian times... -

The original vampire myths still held sway and were popular "folkloric" (and still "scape-goatish") aspects of life in Eastern Europe and little known in London.

Believe it or not, it would be a strange Victorian invention that would change this.

Before the industrial revolution and steamships, tourism truly didn't exist as it does today. With the advent of these, people of all walks of life could now travel abroad. With the "simpler folk" now visiting far-off "simple folk" as tourist, stories and folklore made the rounds. There was a "more modern" version of what most consider a "mainstream vampire" written in 1816 by a fellow named John Polidori, a young Italian man living in England who was employed as Lord Byron's physician. Lord Byron usurped the story and published it under his own name... the "vampyre gentleman" in the story was Lord Ruthven Glenarvon who is both captivating and a trifle monstrous. Lord Ruthven charms our heroine and then visits her in "vampiric form"... This was the first of it's kind... and it brought about a lot of venom from Polidori towards Byron. This problem overtook the story, the publisher resigned, and the book was more or less forgotten... but had set the tone.

The English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish, unlike many other cultures, truly appreciate the "darker" side of life and relish in gruesome and gory tales. (Notice, it's in Britain where most ghost stories come from!) The tales of these "vampires" were brought in and relished with an absolute passion.

It was in this day and age of the "tourist" that an Irish civil servant, who had written a "romantic horror novel" after visiting the ruins of Whitby Abbey in England, discovered the name and monstrous doings of "Dracula".

The name and the area in which Vlad lived was a "natural" for his creature of the night and "Count Dracula - The Vampire" was born.

The interesting thing is, Stoker was not being terribly original. When the reports of the Eastern European vampires started filtering in, many books and "penny dreadfuls" (cheap pocket books) featured the vampire... who, because of a flying mouse that drank cows blood discovered in South America and Africa, had now taken the form, in English hands, of a bat.

Images of bat-like creatures that sucked the life's blood from the living were the stuff of those penny dreadfuls, and more than a few Victorian nightmares, to be sure!

The thing is, Stoker wanted his villain to be evil, but a reflection of man's own ability to conceal evil... a "romantic villain", as it were.

Hence, poor Vlad III, defender of Wallachia, or monster from Transylvania, suddenly became "Count Dracula" and an immortal vampire to boot!

As a side note, one wonders how the people in Wallachia and later, Romania, would feel about their hero being turned into a cartoon character on a brand of children's breakfast cereal?

Either way, the "modern" and "romantic" vampire was born.

- Sex, sex, sex! 

Now, I could go on about the Victorian preoccupation with sex and how vampirism fits this role... y'know, the seduction of a victim, the "drawing of virgin blood", the "feeding" of a life force... but forget it! Too much ink has been spilled on this topic and, for the moment, it's not very important. Let's just say that YES, vampires, after Stoker, took on a sexual undertone. In fact, Bela Lugosi (famed for his 1930's movie portrayal of Dracula) was considered, after the role, a "screen sex-symbol". Go figure! (Also, one of the other pre-Stoker vampire novels was Sheridan La Fanu's "Carmilla" published in 1892 which featured a lesbian vampire...)

Moving on...