We’ve all read Bram Stoker’s very commercially successful treatment of the vampire stories in the character of Dracula. Written in 1897 and adapted to the stage and later to the movies, Dracula became the modern archetype of the vampire. But Stoker didn’t in fact introduce the vampire to the English speaking world. The Irish writer, J. Sheridan Le Fanu, provided a wonderfully creepy treatment of the vampire in his 1872 novel Carmilla.
Carmilla reads just like a movie: a strange woman comes to the castle and her daughter stays behind to be a companion to the young lady of the house. But strange things happen and the young lady begins to fall ill. Furthermore, other young women in the area are taken ill and rapidly die. Concern for the guest leads to discovery that she disappears at night, as if through solid walls, and doesn’t join the household until later in the day.