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Vampires, it seems, are everywhere these days - be it TV shows and movies, and, of course, the books they are based on. The first piece of writing that really brought vampires into the limelight was a short story called The Vampyre. Written by John William Polidori, who was a friend of Lord Bryon's (to whom the story was erroneously attributed to initially), The Vampyre was published in the New Monthly Magazine on April 1, 1819.
The plot revolved around a young man called Aubrey, who discovers that his aristocratic friend, Lord Ruthven, is a vampire, just as his friend is about to marry his sister. Interestingly enough, Lord Ruthven's character is said to be based on Lord Byronl the story itself was inspired by a short fragmented story that Lord Byron had written earlier.
But perhaps it was Bram Stoker's novel, Dracula that really brought these fanged creatures to the fore. Inspired by The Vampyre, Dracula was written in 1897 and firmly entrenched vampirelore into popular culture.
The novel, which was adapted into several films, tells the story of Count Dracula though a series of letters and journal entries primarily written by Jonathan Harker, a solicitor who visits the evil Count Dracula who lives in an eerie castle on the border of Transylvania, Bukovina and Moldavia.
Harker eventually realises that the aristocratic Count is a vampire who can shape shift, but only after he is imprisoned by the Count in his castle. Harker manages to escape to London, where Count Dracula follows him and attempts to kill - or turn - Harker and his fiancé, Mina. No doubt then that the Count, while a charming and knowledgeable fellow, was clearly a villain.
In the late 70s and early 80s, Anne Rice, undoubtedly the "Queen of Vampire Fiction", began to write a series of novels called The Vampire Chronicles of which the first was Interview with the Vampire.
Interview with the Vampire, which was written in 1976, begins on a Louisiana plantation in 1791. Lestat, the roguish vampire who you just cannot help admire (along the lines of Damon in the Vampire Diaries), "turns" a young man, Louis, into a vampire. But as the years go by, Louis, who initially doesn't salivate at the thought of drinking human blood, preferring that of animals', tires of Lestat, and wishes to move on.
Seeing this, Lestat turns a five year old girl called Claudia, in the hope that both him and Louis will raise her as their daughter. Claudia, while immortalised in the young girl's body, begins to mature quickly, and together with Louis tries to kill Lestat, and move on to find more of their own kind in Europe. The plot thickens as they meet Armand, the head of a vampire coven in Paris, called the Théâtre des Vampires.
While many of Rice's vampirical creations such as the charming Lestat or the do-gooder Louis displayed some human-like attributes such as humour and guilt respectively, it is the vampires that have been written about more recently that have truly changed with time.
Cases in point are Edward Cullen from The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer, Stefan Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries by LJ Smith and Bill Compton in The Southern Vampire Mysteries series by Charlaine Harris.
In these novels, which have become bestsellers across the world, and their subsequent television and film adaptations, vampires are no longer morbid creatures of the night, who can change into bats and possess an aversion to holy water and garlic a la Count Dracula.
Instead, they are extremely good-looking, sensitive and perhaps even more humane than human beings themselves, and are constantly trying to overcome their addiction to human blood. And in some cases, they seem to have more value for human life than the humans depicted in these novels.
In fact, it would be safe to say that vampires portrayed in these novels have made vampires an aspiration of sorts - after all, who wouldn't want to be immortal, young and drop dead gorgeous? (Assuming you can overlook the fact that you'd have to feed off a rat now and then with your fangs to sustain yourself, of course.)
Of course, the novels have spawned several television shows and movies. So far, three of the books from The Twilight Saga (Twilight, New Moon and Exlipse) have been made into big budget films, while The Vampire Diaries has been adapted for television into a series of the same name on the CW Network. Meanwhile, The Southern Vampire Mysteries series, more popularly known as the Sookie Stackhouse books, had been adapted by HBO into a darker television show called True Blood.
Interestingly enough, there is a new book out recently called Jane bites back, which is based on the premise that Jane Austen is a vampire who was turned by Lord Byron, and is currently living in New York State, running a bookshop and writing novels in her spare time. (Given the fact that most vampires don't need to sleep, one can assume that she's written many a bestseller.) While Jane Bites Back hasn't made it to television or Hollywood yet, perhaps given its tagline "It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen is still alive todayâ€¦ as a vampireâ€¦" the chances are that it just might.
In the meantime, vampire fans it seems have enough to read - and watch.