Vampire. A sensual and sadistic creature who feeds on human blood to stave their hunger. A character who first appeared on the page entangled in a seductive story of murder and a critique on aristocratic lifestyles, vampires have since evolved to be featured in love stories filled with werewolves, vengeance, and queer-coded fantasies.
They have become popular within the past twenty years through stories such as Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, and the infamous Dracula.
In current pop culture trends, vampires are implemented into TV shows, films, and fan-made–made media like fanfiction. The vampire trend disintegrated after Twilight’s hype died down, but has slowly made a comeback in recent years. From heavily romantic books, such as King of Battle and Blood by Scarlett St. Clair, to bearing iconic roles series such as Lily Chen and Simon Lewis from Cassandra Clare’s The Shadowhunter Chronicles, vampires have permanently left their mark on literature all around.
Here is a timeline of where vampires began, starting with The Vampyre from 1818.
1818: The Vampyre by John Polidori
According to the British Library, The Vampyre “deals with aristocratic seduction and murder, connections between a depraved young aristocrat and vampirism, the moral collapse both of the woman being seduced and her brother, and the inability of her family to protect her.”
The turning of the aristocrat must be kept secret, which must be for a year and a day, which turns out to be the day the vampire is due to marry, then kill the narrator’s sister. There is speculation that the author based his vampire character, Lord Ruthven, on Lord Byron.
1872: Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
In 1872, 25 years before Dracula was published, J. Sheridan Le Fanu published Carmilla. It’s a sinister and hair-raising novella that influenced Dracula with its tale.
Laura, a young woman who lives with her wealthy father, befriends Carmilla, a mysterious, beautiful stranger.
“They begin an intense, shockingly (for 1872) sexually charged friendship, with Laura finding herself both enthralled and disturbed by Carmilla,” wrote Shelly Jay for the Nerdist. She was also disturbed by “her own feelings towards Carmilla’s almost obsessive nature.”
After a continuous string of unexplained deaths of young women, a religious doctor reveals Carmilla to be Millarca, an ancient vampire who preys on young women and has been, for decades.
1897: Dracula by Bram Stoker
Dracula, was the most popular literary work of vampire literature and remains to be a well-known classic. It has influenced many books and films and the character has been featured in modern media, such as the animated show Castlevania (it also features Carmilla in her full glory) and is forever a part of pop-culture.
A young English lawyer travels to Castle Dracula in Transylvania to conclude a real estate transaction with Count Dracula. After learning that the Count is a vampire, Jonathan Harker escapes the castle. Dracula moves to England and attacks the people of Whitby where he is eventually hunted and killed by Abraham Van Helsing and his group of vampire hunters.
1976: Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
This is the story of Louis, as told in his own words, of his journey through mortal and immortal life. Louis recounts how he became a vampire at the hands of the radiant and sinister Lestat and how he became indoctrinated, unwillingly, into the vampire way of life. His story ebbs and flows through the streets of New Orleans, defining crucial moments such as his discovery of the exquisite lost young child Claudia, wanting not to hurt but to comfort her with the last breaths of humanity he has inside. Yet, he makes Claudia a vampire, trapping her womanly passion, will, and intelligence inside the body of a small child. Louis and Claudia form a seemingly unbreakable alliance and even “settle down” for a while in the opulent French Quarter. Louis remembers Claudia’s struggle to understand herself and the hatred they both have for Lestat that sends them halfway across the world to seek others of their kind. Louis and Claudia are desperate to find somewhere they belong, to find others who understand, and someone who knows what and why they are.
1991: The Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith
It tells the story of Elena, a high school student who is incredibly popular. A new student, Stefan, starts at the school and Elena’s sights are set on him. Stefan is from Italy, 14th century Renaissance Italy, and is a vampire. He tries to only eat animals. There is an instant attraction between them, and then things start going wrong.
The series forms a complex love triangle between Elena, Stefan, and his brother Damon as new dangers arise. Drama, suspense, torture, and love all coincide within this thirteen-book series.
The Vampire Diaries became a popular TV show on the CW, airing in September 2009 and ran until March 2017.
2005: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
What might be one of the most popular vampire stories, Twilight follows Bella Swan, an awkward teenager who moves to Forks, Washington, to live with her dad. The sun is not bright and the clouds clog up the sky, a complete turn-around from Phoenix. She meets Edward Cullen, a mysterious boy who has ensnared her heart and soul. When she finds out he’s a vampire with mind-reading abilities, her life goes from boring and gloomy to something worth living.
The Twilight Saga is filled with vengeance, love-triangles, and so much angst. No one could get enough of it.
Twilight was adapted for film, alongside the three books following it: New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn.
2016: Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Welcome to Mexico City, an oasis in a sea of vampires. Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is just trying to survive its heavily policed streets when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life. Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, is smart, beautiful, and dangerous. Domingo is mesmerized.
Atl needs to quickly escape the city, far from the rival narco-vampire clan relentlessly pursuing her. Her plan doesn’t include Domingo, but little by little, Atl finds herself warming up to the scrappy young man and his undeniable charm. As the trail of corpses stretches behind her, local cops and crime bosses both start closing in.
Vampires, humans, cops, and criminals collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive? Or will the city devour them all?
2020: The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
Patricia Campbell had always planned for a big life, but after giving up her career as a nurse to marry an ambitious doctor and become a mother, Patricia’s life has never felt smaller. The days are long, her kids are ungrateful, her husband is distant, and her to-do list is never really done. The one thing she has to look forward to is her book club, a group of Charleston mothers united only by their love for true-crime and suspenseful fiction. In these meetings, they’re more likely to discuss the FBI’s recent siege of Waco as much as the ups and downs of marriage and motherhood.
But when an artistic and sensitive stranger moves into the neighborhood, the book club’s meetings turn into speculation about the newcomer. Patricia is initially attracted to him, but when some local children go missing, she starts to suspect the newcomer is involved. She begins her own investigation, assuming that he’s a Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. What she uncovers is far more terrifying, and soon she–and her book club–are the only people standing between the monster they’ve invited into their homes and their unsuspecting community.
2021: A Dowry of Blood by S.T Gibson
Saved from the brink of death by a mysterious stranger, Constanta is transformed from a medieval peasant into a bride fit for an undying king. But when Dracula draws a cunning aristocrat and a starving artist into his web of passion and deceit, Constanta realizes that her beloved is capable of terrible things.
Finding comfort in the arms of her rival consorts, she begins to unravel their husband’s dark secrets. With the lives of everyone she loves on the line, Constanta will have to choose between her own freedom and her love for her husband. But bonds forged by blood can only be broken by death.
Check out this timeline from Time Toast of a variety of Vampire Novels throughout History.