"An authoritative take on the history of the vampire."—New York Times Book Review
"Nick Groom concludes this invigorating study of vampires by suggesting that we should try to be a bit more like them. Thankfully this doesn’t entail hanging shiftily around blood donor banks . . . Rather, Groom wants us to think about vampires as a way of re-enchanting the contemporary human condition."—Kathryn Hughes, Guardian (Book of the Day)
‘Colossally smart. . . Groom is interested in undead Byron, but he is more interested in the aspects of vampirology that pop culture tends to neglect. . . It is a great relief to meet Groom’s vampire, still icy from the void and unburdened by the aesthetic of Gothic nightingale-lite. When it materializes, on the threshold of a worrisome dream, it looks nothing like what one expected. . ."—Katy Waldman, New Yorker
"Groom impressively manages to analyze vampires’ influence on almost every facet of private and public life—social, theological political, medical, cultural, sexual, literary—over the span of four centuries."—Regina Munch, Commonweal
“Formidably well-researched study” — Kevin Jackson, Literary Review
“With the unflappable pace of a phantom coachman, Groom takes us to year zero - an outbreak of vampire panics stemming from the Serbian communities of the Austrian Empire's newly acquired Balkan marches.” —All About History
“Printed with a number of vibrant and shocking illustrations and plates, this is a fascinating work of both cultural history and literary criticism.” —Seán Hewitt, Irish Times
“In this erudite and engaging history of the vampire Nick Groom explores the blood sucker’s journey through the European Enlightenment and beyond, illuminating broader aspects of religion, medicine and culture on the way. In doing so, Groom provides us with a valuable prehistory of the literary Dracula.”—Owen Davies, author of Grimoires
“Groom succeeds in contextualising the vampire thoroughly, for the first time, in the changing cultures of two hundred years of European history: a remarkable achievement.”—Ronald Hutton, author of The Witch
“Likely to be the definitive history of the vampire for years to come. In an accessible yet deeply scholarly dive into the archives of medicine, folk-lore, travel writing, theology, politics and literature, Groom produces a compelling account of the vampire as the product of the Enlightenment’s clash with its superstitious Eastern other from the seventeenth century onwards. A blood feast that will sustain every kind of vampirologist, from teen Goth up to Professor Van Helsing.”—Roger Luckhurst, author of Zombies
"Our centuries-long fascination with the living dead is given a fresh and welcome consideration by Nick Groom, who mines historical reality—and unreality—with a keen appreciation of cultural meaning and metaphor."—David J. Skal, author of Something in the Blood
An authoritative new history of the vampire, two hundred years after it first appeared on the literary scene
Published to mark the bicentenary of John Polidori’s publication of The Vampyre
, Nick Groom’s detailed new account illuminates the complex history of the iconic creature. The vampire first came to public prominence in the early eighteenth century, when Enlightenment science collided with Eastern European folklore and apparently verified outbreaks of vampirism, capturing the attention of medical researchers, political commentators, social theorists, theologians, and philosophers. Groom accordingly traces the vampire from its role as a monster embodying humankind’s fears, to that of an unlikely hero for the marginalized and excluded in the twenty-first century.
Drawing on literary and artistic representations, as well as medical, forensic, empirical, and sociopolitical perspectives, this rich and eerie history presents the vampire as a strikingly complex being that has been used to express the traumas and contradictions of the human condition.