Fun facts about vampires in literature
1. Vampires began to appear in literature in a big way in the early eighteenth century, as a result of a real-life ‘vampire craze’. In the 1720s and 1730s, vampires became a big part of European culture, and even included the digging up of a couple of suspected vampires, Petar Blagojevich and Arnold Paole, in Serbia. Following this, there was a 1748 poem The Vampire by Heinrich August Ossenfelder, as well as the narrative poem Lenore (1773) by Gottfried August Bürger.
2. However, the first vampire novel was written in the early nineteenth century – and was conceived on the same holiday that produced Frankenstein. John Polidori, who wrote the first vampire novel, The Vampyre, in 1819, was among the group of friends staying at Lord Byron’s villa in 1816 when Mary Shelley came up with the story of Frankenstein. Polidori was also a qualified doctor and was the first person to study sleepwalking. (He recommended a sound beating, or else the application of an electric current.)
3. In Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula isn’t killed by a wooden stake through the heart. Although this method is mentioned in the 1897 novel, and Van Helsing uses a stake through the heart to dispatch a number of the ‘brides of Dracula’, the Count himself is actually vanquished by having two knives thrust into his chest and neck: ‘But, on the instant, came the sweep and flash of Jonathan’s great knife. I shrieked as I saw it shear through the throat. Whilst at the same moment Mr. Morris’s bowie knife plunged into the heart.’
4. ‘Sanguivoriphobia’ is the fear of vampires. The word literally means ‘fear of blood-eaters’.
5. The basic plot of each of the novels in Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight saga is loosely based on a literary classic. Each book in Meyer’s phenomenally successful Twilight series was inspired by, and based on, a work of literature: the first novel, Twilight, was based on Pride and Prejudice, New Moon was based on Romeo and Juliet, Eclipse on Wuthering Heights, and Breaking Dawn on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Meyer was originally going to call the first book not Twilight but Forks, after the town in which it is set.
If you enjoyed these fun facts about vampire fiction, you might also enjoy our fascinating Dracula facts. For more literary trivia, we recommend our book crammed full of 3,000 years of interesting bookish facts, The Secret Library: A Book-Lovers’ Journey Through Curiosities of History, available now from Michael O’Mara Books.
Image: A screenshot from the trailer for the Hammer Horror film Dracula (1958), Wikimedia Commons.