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The Vampyre’s Legacy, Part 2: The Feminine Touch

As the decades passed, more writers tried their hands at the vampire genre that had been established by Lord Byron and John Polidori. In the process, they came up with new concepts and new approaches. One area in which vampire literature diversified was in terms of gender. Polidori and Byron were men, as were their…

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The Vampyre’s Legacy, Part 3: Deconstructing the Vampire

We have seen how, in the first half of the nineteenth century, vampire fiction was pioneered by John Polidori and elaborated upon by later writers. These explorations continued into the century’s latter half as authors placed the vampire under the microscope, poking and prodding their specimens to work out exactly what the literary vampire represented….

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The Vampyre’s Legacy, Part 4: Carmilla and Company

The previous installment of this series covered attempts to deconstruct vampire fiction during the mid-nineteenth century, with writers stepping back and seeing how vampirism could serve symbolic purposes. As the century headed towards its close, the time was right for the vampire to be reconstructed once again. With the more analytical works out of the…

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The Vampyre’s Legacy, Part 5: Enter Count Dracula

The 1890s were a bountiful decade for vampire literature. This was the period that saw the publication of James Maclaren Cobban’s Master of his Fate (1890), E. E. Baldwin’s The Strange Story of Dr. Senex (1891), Cora Lin Daniels’ Sardia (1891), Julien Gordon’s Vampires (1891), Florence Marryat’s The Blood of the Vampire (1897), and Thaddeus…

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The Vampyre’s Legacy, Part 6: An Occult Dawn

In 1897, Dracula had successfully transported the vampire from a hazy Gothic past to turn-of-the-century London – and it is quite possible that the Count would have found himself at home. After all, he arrived just in time to see a rising interest in occultism that occurred during the late Victorian and Edwardian eras.

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The Vampyre’s Legacy, Part 7: Dion Fortune’s Demon Lover

Born Violet Mary Firth in 1890, the British writer Dion Fortune is one of the most influential figures in Western occultism. She penned a sizeable number of books – both fiction and non-fiction – prior to her death in 1946, including a sequence of occult novels. The first of these, a 1927 book entitled The…

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The Vampyre’s Legacy, Part 8: In the Shadow of Hollywood

As noted in the previous post of this series, the biggest change faced by vampire fiction of the 1930s and ‘40s was that authors in the genre were now competing with films. Admittedly, dramatised vampires were not a new phenomenon: after all, the 1819 publication of Polidori’s “The Vampyre” had been swiftly followed by a…

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The Vampyre’s Legacy, Part 9: Atom-Age Vampires

As far back as the nineteenth century, certain writers had tried to demystify vampires by coming up with scientific explanations for their condition and behaviour. James Malcolm Rymer’s ramshackle Varney the Vampire introduced – and later abandoned – the notion that its main character was a man resurrected through galvanism. Charles Wilkins Webber’s Spiritual Vampirism…

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The Vampyre’s Legacy, Part 10: Sympathy for the Devil

During the sixties and seventies, pop culture was hit by an explosion of interest in the occult. Aleister Crowley glowered from the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band while Mick Jagger sang “Sympathy for the Devil”, and before long Black Sabbath would be embracing Gothic imagery as part of the nascent metal scene….

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The Vampyre’s Legacy, Part 11: Urban Fantasies

The period following the publication of Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire saw vampire fiction entrench itself not as a subgenre of horror, but as a substantial body of fiction in its own right. Author David J. Schow would look back on this state of affairs in his 2018 collection DJStories: You know how zombie-flavoured…

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The Vampyre’s Legacy, Part 12: One More Decade

Two centuries ago, Dr. John Polidori’s story “The Vampyre” was published, and vampire literature was born. The Vampyre’s Legacy series has charted the evolution of the genre over two hundred years, taking one story from each decade to use as a case study. But the most recent decade presents a problem: the period is still too…