Harry’s (Halloween) Dublin


Sheridan Le Fanu’s grave.

Mount Jerome Cemetery, Harold’s Cross, Dublin 6.

Harry Warren writes:

At Halloween, many trick or treaters will be dressed in vampire costumes due to the enduring legacy of the 1897 novel Dracula, by Irish author Bram Stoker.

The novel was also immortalised on screen by many great actors, Max Schreck playing the cadaverous vampire Count Orlok in F.W. Murnau‘s 1922 silent classic “Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror“.

Then Bela Lugosi‘s genre defining Dracula in 1931 and later in the superb Gothic horror films of Dracula starring Christopher Lee as the count.

Most people today associate Stoker as the originator of the vampire in modern novels but Irish author Sheridan Le Fanu can be rightly credited as having written the first vampire story.

Le Fanu belonged to an old Dublin Huguenot family. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, he published 14 novels and wrote superb stories featuring the supernatural, Uncle Silas (1864), The House by the Churchyard (1863) and a book of five long stories, probably his best work, In a Glass Darkly (1872).

The book was published 26 years before Bram Stoker’s novel also includes his classic Gothic vampire story “Carmilla“, arguably the first time a vampire appears in a modern story. The story tells of a young woman preyed upon by a female vampire. “Carmilla” popularised the theme of the female vampire replete with hints of lesbianism.

Sheridan Le Fanu rests today in Dublin’s wonderfully atmospheric Victorian Harold’s Cross cemetery. His grave has a notable plaque ” Here Lies Dublin’s Invisible Prince, Novelist and Writer of Ghost Stories”.

I would recommend a visit this weekend.

Previously: Harry’s Dublin

Pics by Harry Warren

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7 thoughts on “Harry’s (Halloween) Dublin

  1. one username per commenter please

    Sorry, this is wrong. Dr. John Polidori wrote an earlier work called The Vampyre. He wrote it the same weekend that Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstien, as it was a competition between them Byron and Percy Shelly to see who could scare each other more. It was wrtten in 1819. Carmilla was 1872. But even The Vampyre is not the first entry of the Vampire in literatutre. There is a short story from a few years arlier, whose name and author elude me right now, when I get home I’ll check my library and revert with the details.

    1. Harry

      Thanks for the comment, interesting that Polidori based his tale on a fragment of a story originally written and abandoned by Byron , his vampire was a cartoon caricature of Byron.
      Le Fanu added the stake through the heart and other elements that have accrued to the genre :)
      Have a look at the folkloric myth of Abhartach dating from the 5th and 6th centuries. The Irish vampire tradition is a long one

  2. Nigel

    I heard a talk once about hw he grew up in deepest darkest Ireland during the Faction Fights and Tithe Wars. As the son of an Anglican pastor, he and his brothers used to have to drive around collecting the tithes, and got ambushed and seriusly beaten up a few times. It was suggested this might have fed his gothic imagination somewhat, and I’ve no rreason to doubt it.

    In A Glass Darkly is a great little collection, it includes Carmilla and the classic Green Tea.

  3. bisted

    …not sure who came up name or notion of vampire but James Joyce was greatly influenced by Le Fanu…I believe the vampire motif runs throughout the stories in Dubliners…

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