Before Dracula was a household name, the big name in the vampire game was Varney. Varney the Vampire was the most famous and one of the best sellers in the realm of penny dreadfuls. Though the TV show has made Penny Dreadful a name, this popular form of entertainment was a serial where each edition cost a penny. Printed in 1847, the series was published anonymously to prevent a scandal for the author. Varney the Vampire is the violent tale of a creature with an insatiable lust for blood and of the group that bands together to end him for good.
The collected works that make up Varney the Vampire are extensive, almost to the point of exhaustion. Think of the old Soap Operas mixed with Dark Shadows and then with a little peppering of exaggerations sprinkled in. This collection is looooonnng and most definitely not the faint of heart. However, the sections are broken up by woodcarving prints for those of us who love the visual medium.
If you’re interested in how the vampire mythos became popular culture, Varney the Vampire is one of the best places to start.
Varney the Vampire is now available from Dover. Look for it on Amazon.