M. J. Trow - A Brief History Of Vampires (Robinson, July 2010)
Blurb: Vampire culture is everywhere: in the bookshops, on TV, in nightclubs, and in the cinemas. With the success of the Twilight saga and True Blood, the lore of the undead is a global phenomenon. But where does the legend of the Vampire come from, and why does it have such a perennial appeal? Historian and vampire aficionado M. J. Trow goes in search of the origins of this blood craze a long way from the shopping malls, to the story of the fifteenth century Hungarian warrior prince, Vlad of Wallachia, who was famed for his brutality in war as well as his passion for excruciating torture. Vlad would later become the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula and the film Nosferatu.
Trow's fascinating search uncovers the forgotten story of Vlad and charts his legacy throughout history up to the present day. He shows that the legend and lore of vampirism has evolved over centuries and still has a powerful hold on our imaginations.
Press Release Robinson From Vlad the Impaler to Edward Cullen, M.J. Trow goes in search of the allure of the vampire.
A Brief History of Vampires
By M.J. Trow Published by Robinson July 8th 2010 Paperback, £8.99
A must-have book for all vampire fans, A Brief History of Vampires charts the phenomenal craze of 'popular vampires' such as Nosferatu and Count Dracula to screen vampires such as those played by Bela Lugosi and Robert Pattinson. With the current global vampire craze taking the book, film and TV charts by storms with the Twilight saga and True Blood, this book begs the question: why do we love to be frightened?
Within a society which has become increasingly desensitised to horror, M.J. Trow charts the vampire's global phenomenon and seeks its terrifying origins. A long way from the billboard we learn the story of Vlad 'The Impaler' of Wallachia. a ruler infamous for his brutality in war as well as his passion for 'impaling' his victims, and who later became the inspiration for Bram Stoker's infamous Dracula.
In order to uncover the fascinating, forgotten story of 'The Impaler', Trow looks into the history, legend and lore of his legacy. Compellingly and historically, he shows how the legend of the vampire has evolved over centuries and explains how it still has such an intense hold on modern day imagination.
About the Author M. Trow studied history at university, after which he has spent years teaching. He is also an established crime writer and biographer, with a reputation as a scholar who peels away myths to reveal the true history behind them. Originally from Rhondda, South Wales, he now lives on the Isle of White.
There was something of an explosion in these 'real' vampire books during the early nineties, then I either got rid of 'em in the main or just lost touch (and interest) until Paul Bibeau's splendid Sundays With Vlad last year. Trow's approach is scholarly with stacks of references but, thankfully, not so dry as to leave you feeling pretty undead yourself after a few pages. I'm not so convinced that vampire fiction is a strong point of his (proof-reader) - Benson's Room In The Tower, Blackwood's The Transfer et al are "novels"? - but then the same criticism can be applied to Basil Copper's The Vampire: In Legend, Fact & Art and everyone seems to like that. Trow is very good value on recent trends, and he's just reminded me of the most pitiful novel i have EVER read - Upton Smyth's terrible Last Of The Vampires!. i've read Mr. Trow before somewhere; a version of Mammoth Book Of Jack The Ripper? will check later.
later: just edited out a stupid line as my writing & judgement are more crap than ever today.
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.
This sounds similar in some respects to Anthony Masters' Natural History of the Vampire, published back in the 1970s. It featured sections on the vampire in legend, as well as in literature and the cinema. It was the first vampire book I ever bought. The cover featured a pair of bloodstained vampire fangs, which probably attracted me to it in the first place, and it is still one of my favourite books on vampires.
Trow is better known as a crime novelist - has some decnt contemporary stories, but my favourites are his Inspector Lestrade books, where we see that old Sholto was not the fool some Holmes movies and pastiches still like to portray, but a decent hard-working copper. He started his solo career by going up against the corrupt CID in a nice pastiche of the great Scotland Yard scandal.
I haven't come across any of Trow's Lestrade stories, but you're right, if I think of Lestrade then Dennis Hoey's portrayal in the Rathbone Holmes films comes immediatly to mind. In Trow's tales, do Holmes and Watson feature at all, even if only in passing?