Saturday, November 9, 2013

Who Was the First American to Write a Vampire Short Story?

There has been much discussion about John Polidori, the young Italian doctor that travelled with Lord Byron and who wrote the first vampire short story in the English language. Polidori titled it "The Vampyre" and the story was published in 1819.

But who was the first American to write a vampire short story? That honor belongs to Robert Charles Sands, a lawyer and poet. His excellent scary story was titled "The Black Vampyre: A Legend of Saint Domingo" and it was published only a few months after Polidori's vampire story in 1819. "The Black Vampyre" is difficult to find. I spent time at UC San Diego spooling through microfiche and then copying the individual pages, which then had to be scanned into a computer. I included it in the award-winning BlooDeath: The Best Vampire Stories 1800-1849, along with a lengthy introduction about Sands and the interesting bond that joins these earliest vampire stories in the English language.