First appearance of the vampire in English literature

Book

Description

English

Published in 1801, Robert Southey’s epic poem Thalaba the Destroyer arguably features the first vampire in English literature. The vampire takes the form of Thalaba’s bride, Oneiza, who dies on their wedding day. Oneiza returns,

Her very lineaments, and such as death

Had changed them, livid cheeks, and lips of blue.

But in her eyes there dwelt

Brightness more terrible

Than all the loathsomeness of death.

The scene is accompanied by an extensive and detailed footnote in which Southey recounts the vampire tales of continental Europe.

Full title
Thalaba the Destroyer. (A metrical romance.).
Published
1801 , London
Format
Book
Creator
Robert Southey
Held by
British Library
Usage Terms
Free from known copyright restrictions
Shelfmark
992.f.17.

Related articles

The Victorian supernatural

Article by
Roger Luckhurst
Theme: 
The Gothic

Roger Luckhurst challenges the idea of the 19th century as one of secularisation, exploring the popularity of mesmerism, spiritualism and 'true' ghost stories in the period.

The imperial Gothic

Article by
Suzanne Daly
Themes: 
Power and politics, The Gothic

Mysticism, degeneracy, irrationality, barbarism: these are the qualities that came to define the non-western ‘other’ in 19th-century Britain. Here Professor Suzanne Daly explores the ‘Imperial Gothic’, examining the ways in which ‘otherness’ and Empire were depicted in Gothic novels such as Jane Eyre, The Moonstone, Dracula and Heart of Darkness.

An introduction to Ann Radcliffe

Article by
Dale Townshend
Themes: 
The Gothic, The novel 1780-1832

Ann Radcliffe is one of the founders of Gothic fiction. Dale Townshend explores Radcliffe's works in terms of the Female Gothic and her unique distinction between terror and horror.

Related collection items