Best Vampire Stories: The Vampire that Started Them AllBy
Most of us think of the very first vampire book as being Dracula by Bram Stoker. It is true that this version of a vampire is one of the more popular ones, and the first version to make it to celluloid. But it isn’t the first vampire story, there were many before it.
In fact, the earliest vampire stories were old folk tales that almost every civilization had of creatures that roamed the night and drank the blood of those unlucky enough to be caught by them. But the first published book was The Vampyre and was published in 1819. It was thought at first to be written by a man who was the rock star of his age, Lord Byron. In truth, it was written by his doctor John Polidori. It was based on a story concept Byron had conceived during the famous ghost-story contest that spawned Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, but he never completed it. Polidori took the idea of the narrator who falls in with a mysterious artistocrat who it turns out is a vampire. Of course, the creature just happens to remind one of Lord Byron, which didn’t exactly please him. But from this story was born the idea of the wealthy gentleman vampire. Even today the story holds up well as a smart tale of mystery.
The book at the time launched a huge vampire craze complete with theatre based on the idea, an opera and several sequels to the original. There was even a French translation by Dumas of the book. So you can see that even without the mass media we have today, the story of the vampire had just as much impact when it first arrived close to 200 years ago.
The vampire story has been around a long time, and I think it will continue to haunt us and fascinate us, no matter what form it takes.