Vampire Fiction: A History

Nowadays when you hear the word Vampire the first thing that pops into your head is probably less than satisfactory, and usually circles around Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and poorly written books. But vampire fiction is a genre in itself and has been around for many years. Let’s retrace Vampire Fiction, from its feeble first steps to today.

First Steps

  1. The Vampyre, by John William Polidori (1819): Perhaps a surprise to many, this was indeed the first known book to be published entirely about the concept of the Vampire. It emerged after the 18th century, in which Vampire Poetry had been made famous by Heinrich August Ossenfelder amongst others. This particular novella tells the story of a young English man called Aubrey, who has some very nasty and disappointing experiences with a Vampire. Oh well, they’re not all sweet and cuddly.
  2. The Family of the Vourdalek by Alexey Konstantinovich Tolstoy (written 1834, published 1884): This less prominent Vampire novella tells the story of Marquis d’Ufre, a young French Diplomat, and his experiences with a Vampire in a small Serbian village. It sounds interesting, althought perhaps one of the reasons it’s not as famous as other works of Vampire fiction is that it was not translated into English for quite some time after its initial release in Russian.
  3. Carmilla, by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1872): This Vampire novella was a more unusual one, telling the story of a girl called Laura, and her experience with a Vampire called Carmilla. Carmilla made romantic advances towards Laura in the novella, often frightening Laura. Carmilla is, of course, quite evil and harmful to those around her. This is known as being hugely influential towards Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
  4. Dracula, by Bram Stoker (1897): After a huge rise in popularity of Vampire fiction, Bram Stoker created his now world renowned Vampire Dracula. The Irish novel is known as being the master of the genre, and the name Dracula is known by seemingly everyone. The story is dark and ominous, telling the story of Jonathan Harker and his terrifying ordeal with Dracula.

In the following years, Vampire Fiction maintained level popularity. Nobody could be prepared, however, for the huge spike in the popularity of Vampire Fiction that would be seen in the late 20th to the 21st century.


  1. Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles (1976-2003): A series of ten books telling the story of fictional Vampire Lestat de Lioncourt. Interview with the Vampire, the novel that kicked off this series, was so popular that it was made into a film starring Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and Kirsten Dunst. As of 2008, the series had sold over 80 million copies worldwide. Her books propelled Vampire Fiction into the spotlight in spectacular fashion.
  2. The Saga of Darren Shan (2000-2006): Darren Shan, or real name Darren O’Shaughnessy’s now worldwide famous series has perfectly captured the very strength of the boom in Vampire Fiction. The twelve book series tells the story of a boy called Darren Shan, and his struggles with becoming a Vampire. The books are made for the younger reader, but really are very good. O’Shaughnessy is a proud bearer of the Irish flag.
  3. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer (2005-2008): This series of books is known in some parts of the world as Where it all went Wrong. Indeed, Stephenie Meyer has made Vampire Fiction hugely, insanely popular throughout the world with her “romantic” portrayal of Bella Swan and her darling Vampire boyfriend, Edward Cullen. Meyer gets five stars for innovation, anyway, as she decided that in her world, Vampires don’t combust in the sun, they sparkle. It’s pretty clear that these books are aimed primarily (and exclusively) at twelve year old girls. These books have been a worldwide phenomenon, and caused an unprecedented resurgance in Vampire Fiction; unfortunately it was all aimed at young girls. Many of you may be horrified to discover that this sub-standard series even spawned the hugely famous Fifty Shades of Grey. E.L James series originated as Twilight fan-fiction. But oh well, our day will come, when Vampire Fiction returns to its gritty, scary roots. One day, one day indeed.

Unfortunately Vampire Fiction has been such an extensive genre that it’s simply impossible to write about all of the books of the past few centuries. If you have any particular Vampire Fiction favourites that I left out, don’t hesitate to tell me about them. What’s your opinion on Vampire Fiction?


4 comments on “Vampire Fiction: A History

  1. “But oh well, our day will come, when Vampire Fiction returns to its gritty, scary roots. One day, one day indeed.”

    I really do hope so. 😦

  2. I really like this post. I hate how vampire lore involves sparkling fairies and falling in love forever nowadays. Why can’t we just have some good, classic, Dracula-fied vampire novels anymore?

    • I agree with you completely! When reading Twilight I have to say that the moment when Edward started to sparkle in the sun was the killer. Vampires are monsters, there are a lot of writers out there who could do with being reminded of that!

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