KAJA FRANCK reviews Written in Blood: A Cultural History of the British Vampire by Paul Adams


Vampires have been progressing: from the graves of Serbian peasants to a sparkling future in the New World.
This journey has been steady and all consuming especially with the resurgence of interest caused by the new breed of celebrity-like vampires.
It is, therefore, always a good thing to pause and consider what the personality of a country brings to their vampire.
If as the oft-quoted Nina Auerbach says every age embraces the vampire that it needs, perhaps it would also be true to say that every nation also embraces the vampire it needs.
Paul Adams’ book, Written in Blood, fills this void for Britain by exploring the distinct quality that our cultural identity has written onto the vampire.
He covers the vampire in a variety of guises: from ghost stories, to ‘real’ vampire killers, to films and literature, as well as an interesting, unbiased review of the case of the Highgate Vampire.
Written in Blood
Adams sets up the difficulties that face him by acknowledging that the term ‘vampire’ can sometimes be misapplied.
He is clear that some of the earlier stories he writes about may not truly be about vampires in the truest sense but contain creatures with vampiric qualities.
They exhibit the fear regarding death, undeath, and settling corpses that define many aspects of later vampires.

This book is incredibly well-researched and the depth of information at Adams’ fingertips comes through clearly.

Whilst these ghost stories are used to contextualise the emergence of the British vampire, Adams starts his book with a discussion of Polidori’s The Vampyre.
Not only does Adams beautifully evoke the atmosphere into which Lord Ruthven, the vampire of the title, emerges but he also shows how British sensibilities moved the vampire from a creature of folklore to a Romantic figure.
This innovation has informed the representation of the vampire ever since.
This book is incredibly well-researched and the depth of information at Adams’ fingertips comes through clearly.
The bibliography is excellent and strong starting point for anyone wanting to do further research on the subject. Whilst this is certainly a positive and speaks to the authenticity of the text, it is in some cases the downfall of the writing style.
Sentences can become a little unwieldy as they try to encompass a glut of facts.
Though these facts certainly inform the creation of the British vampire and what each individual player brings to this process, they can subsume the time line of the narrative.
It may be the academic in me speaking, but I think footnotes and an appendix may have helped this reader to sift through the information.
The work is at its strongest when fuelled by Adams’ obvious passion for the subject. His observations and opinions on the different faces of the British vampire are insightful and engaged.
As vampires are typically considered to be creatures of passion, and it is the love of the subject that underpins this kind of detailed research, it is a shame to lose this quality in the writing.
This book is an excellent introduction for people who want to understand the British love of vampires and the symbolic power of these creatures to our national identity.
The work is readable and well-organised. It approaches the subject from a personal point of view which stylistically informs the impact that the British vampire has on each of us.

READ  Samuel Pepys' fascination with the Paranormal and Dark Arts
Kaja Franck has a PhD in lycanthropic literature. She loves vampires (even ones that sparkle), werewolves, dark fairies and is somewhat reticent about zombies. In her spare time she enjoys reading YA novels, eating fish-finger sandwiches and playing with her spinning wheel. You can find more of her work on the ‘Open Graves, Open Minds’ website.

1 COMMENT

  1. Hi Everyone,This was how me and my BF become VAMPIRES i got a guy from the internet called Akim who was a VAMPIRE so i told him that my boyfriend and i would love to become VAMPIRES so he asked me of my Name ,Country, Age ,State , address and asked me to pay the sum of $150 to send me his blood which i did immediately and in the next 3 days i got the blood sample through the DHL which me and my boyfriend took in the blood into your body and in the next 30 minutes i turned into a VAMPIRE so if you interested in becoming a VAMPIRE kindly contact his email address today [email protected]

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here