"the light falls upon the face. It is perfectly white - perfectly bloodless. The eyes look like polished tin; the lips are drawn back, and the principle feature next to those dreadful eyes is the teeth - the fearful-looking teeth - projecting like those of some wild animal, hideously, glaringly white, and fang-like." ['Varney the Vampire', Chapter I]

The above extract from James Malcolm Ryder's Varney the Vampire or The Feast of Blood, which originally appeared in serial form between 1845 and 1847, sets the tone for an exciting story, full of sensationalism. The novel is not of any particular literary merit, but is noteworthy for being the first vampire novel written in English, and had a profound influence on later horror writers. Just think, if it hadn't been for Sir Francis Varney, with his dead eyes and dripping fangs, there might never have been a Count Dracula.

Strange though it seems, almost every nation in the world has its own version of the vampire legend. Why does the idea of a corpse returning from the dead to feed on the blood of the living, strike such a universal cord? Some say it is because it represents a complete inversion of human nature. Others that it's because of a deep-rooted fascination with the power and seductive influence of the vampire. Whatever the reason, the vampire mythos goes from strength to strength with new books and films continuing to appear all the time.

Traditionally the morality of the stories would centre around the destruction of the monster, but more recently there has been an increasing desire to write from the vampire's viewpoint, as we see in Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles. C.J. Carter-Stephenson himself has considered the theme from several different angles over the years (as anyone who has read Bloodlust Variations will know) and the purpose of this part of the website is to highlight a few of his influences. So without further ado, here is the bill of fare...

Spine-Tingling Stories

Ligeia - Edgar Allan Poe

Originally published in American Museum, 1838.
I CANNOT, for my soul, remember how, when, or even precisely where, I first became acquainted with the lady Ligeia. Long years have since elapsed, and my memory is feeble through much suffering. Or, perhaps, I cannot now bring these points to mind, because, in truth, the character of my beloved, her rare learning, her singular yet placid cast of beauty, and the thrilling and enthralling eloquence of her low musical language, made their way into my heart...

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The Mysterious Stranger - Anonymous

Originally published in Odd and Ends, 1860.
Boreas, that fearful north-west wind, which in the spring and autumn stirs up the lowest depths of the wild Adriatic, and is then so dangerous to vessels, was howling through the woods, and tossing the branches of the old knotty oaks in the Carpathian Mountains, when a party of five riders, who surrounded a litter drawn by a pair of mules, turned into a forest-path, which offered some protection from the April weather...

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Carmilla - J. Sheridan Le Fanu

Originally published in The Dark Blue, 1871-72.
In Styria, we, though by no means magnificent people, inhabit a castle, or schloss. A small income, in that part of the world, goes a great way. Eight or nine hundred a year does wonders. Scantily enough ours would have answered among wealthy people at home. My father is English, and I bear an English name, although I never saw England. But here, in this lonely and primitive place...

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The Horla - Guy de Maupassant

Originally published in shorter form in Gil Blas, 1886.
MAY 8. What a lovely day! I have spent all the morning lying on the grass in front of my house, under the enormous plantain tree which covers and shades and shelters the whole of it. I like this part of the country; I am fond of living here because I am attached to it by deep roots, the profound and delicate roots which attach a man to the soil on which his ancestors were born and died, to their traditions, their usages, their food, the local expressions, the peculiar language of the peasants, the smell of the soil, the hamlets, and to the atmosphere itself. I love the house in which I grew up. From my windows I can see the Seine...

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Good Lady Ducayne - Mary Elizabeth Braddon

Originally published in The Strand Magazine, 1896.
Bella Rolleston had made up her mind that her only chance of earning her bread and helping her mother to an occasional crust was by going out into the great unknown world as companion to a lady. She was willing to go to any lady rich enough to pay her a salary and so eccentric as to wish for a hired companion. Five shillings told off reluctantly from one of those sovereigns which were so rare with the mother and daughter, and which melted away so quickly, five solid shillings had been handed to a smartly-dressed lady in an office in Harbeck Street...

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The Tomb of Sarah - F.G. Loring

Originally published in Pall Mall Magazine, 1900.
My father was the head of a celebrated firm of church restorers and decorators about sixty years ago. He took a keen interest in his work, and made an especial study of any old legends or family histories that came under his observation. He was necessarily very well read and thoroughly well posted in all questions of folklore and medieval legend. As he kept a careful record of every case he investigated the manuscripts he left at his death have a special interest. From amongst them I have selected the following, as being a particularly weird and extraordinary experience....

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Luella Miller - Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman

Originally published in The Wind In The Rose Bush, 1903.
Close to the village street stood the one-story house in which Luella Miller, who had an evil name in the village, had dwelt. She had been dead for years, yet there were those in the village who, in spite of the clearer light which comes on a vantage-point from a long-past danger, half believed in the tale which they had heard from their childhood. In their hearts, although they scarcely would have owned it, was a survival of the wild horror and frenzied fear of their ancestors who had dwelt in the same age with Luella Miller...

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For the Blood is the Life - F. Marion Crawford

Originally published in Wandering Ghosts, 1903.
We had dined at sunset on the broad roof of the old tower, because it was cooler there during the great heat of summer. Besides, the little kitchen was built at one corner of the great square platform, which made it more convenient than if the dishes had to be carried down the steep stone steps broken in places and everywhere worn with age. The tower was one of those built all down the west coast of Calabria by the Emperor Charles V early in the sixteenth century, to keep off the Barbary pirates, when the unbelievers were allied with Francis I..."

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The Transfer - Algernon Blackwood

General. Originally published in Country Life, 1912.
The child began to cry in the early afternoon--about three o'clock, to be exact. I remember the hour, because I had been listening with secret relief to the sound of the departing carriage. Those wheels fading into the distance down the gravel drive with Mrs. Frene, and her daughter Gladys to whom I was governess, meant for me some hours' welcome rest, and the June day was oppressively hot. Moreover, there was this excitement in the little country household that had told upon us all, but especially upon myself...

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Macabre Movies

Nosferatu (1922)

Vampyr (1932)

Dracula and Modern Popular Culture

Dissertation by C.J. Carter-Stephenson

"time is on my side, your girls that you all love are mine already; and through them you and others shall yet be mine." ['Dracula', page 365]

These words, spoken by Dracula himself, encapsulate his motivations within Bram Stoker's well-known novel. Yet they might also have been written to describe the influence of his character over future generations. The character of the Count has so inspired the human imagination that he has become one of the most renowned figures of modern popular culture. Interestingly, it is not the original book that has led to the count's fame, but a host of other mediums. In fact, it has got to the stage now where the kinds of people who would once have read Dracula no longer bother to do so, because they are so familiar with the film adaptations. For this reason, it is possible to see, the book as a victim of its own success. Another way in which the book has suffered from its own popularity is explored by Clive Leatherdale in Dracula:The Novel and the Legend, in a passage that states that popular culture has so trivialized the book that until recently it has been wholly ignored as a subject for serious study.

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Dracula Chronology

A user-friendly guide to the origins, exploits and influence of Count Dracula

PRE - 1800
Vampire myths from antiquity.

Vlad "the Impaler" Tepes, prince of Wallachia, c1430-c1477.

Elizabeth Bathory (1560-1614), Hungarian countess seeking rejuvenation, slaughters as many as 650 girls to bathe in their blood.

Early 1700s: vampire hysteria sweeps Europe.

The word "vampyre" enters the English language in translations of German accounts of vampire frenzy...

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