The Beginning of a Legend
Who can say precisely where the vampire legend originated, arising as they do from traditional folklore and old tales? The grotesquely undead image of a vampire, eternally preying upon the living, is a romantically Gothic spectacle in the imagination.
Of course, earlier works like Coleridge's "Christabel" (1797) have been considered for their vampiric characteristics, even though the term vampire was never employed. Williams explains that Coleridge's Geraldine "has some notable vampiric qualities: she must be helped over the threshold and is notably stronger after her night with Christabel." And, then, if we look back even before the publication of "Christabel," Robert Burton writes about "a Lamia, a snake-woman of classical antiquity who feeds on the blood of her victims."
"The Vampyre" and Beyond
John Polidori first published "The Vampyre" in 1819, but the first chapter was written by Lord Byron and the publishers liked to publicize it as Byron's book. "The Vampyre" is important as the first English vampire novel, though it's not nearly as famous as Bram Stoker's "Dracula," which was published in 1897.
As Williams says, "Stoker's novel determined what we all know about vampires: they fear garlic and the cross; they sleep in the day in their coffins of native earth; they transform themselves into bats and wolves; the vampires victim becomes a vampire; they are the "Un-dead"--Nosferatu." The monstrous vampire represents the "other," but something of the horror in such a creature has captured our imaginations.