Happy Birthday to the Vampyre Genre!

The first English language vampire literary story was The Vampyre, written by John William Polidori. First published April 1, 1819, it was originally developed as a contest piece. The writers in the group also included Lord Byron and Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein.

Gothic horror became super popular in the English-speaking world in the early 19th century. It’s had a steady fan base ever since. Polidori’s suave, murderous Lord Ruthaven is the sinister grandfather of all our romantic vampire protagonists.

Though people like to point out that The Vampyre, Carmilla, and Dracula aren’t Romances in the modern sense of the word, they do share the quality of the Seductive Other– only without the “happily ever after” required by modern Romance. It’s not so much that the Seductive Other is tamed in modern stories. Modern heroines now have the ability to enter into the Other’s world, which is much more fun than being murdered! 😀

A portrait of the author of The Vampyre
John William Polidori by F. G. Gainsford. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons