The Blood of the Vampire (1897) was rather overshadowed by a certain Transylvanian Count who made his debut in the same year. Although there are similarities with Dracula, Marryat’s vampire is female and drains her victims’ life force, rather than their blood.
Harriet Brandt is the daughter of a mad scientist and a mixed-race voodoo priestess. Brought up on her parents’ Jamaican plantation, she is forced to flee to Europe after the slaves revolt. Although everyone is initially attracted to Harriet, people who get close to her seem to sicken and die.
Marryat’s “psychic vampire” represents both the racial “other” and the New Woman of the period, both of whom were perceived as a threat to fin-de-siècle society. This curious novel engages with key debates, such as race, women’s rights, heredity, syphilophobia and the occult.
This critical edition, edited by Dr Greta Depledge, includes an introduction, explanatory footnotes, suggestions for further reading, and contextual material on female sexuality, the pathologisation of female behaviour, hysteria, race, eugenics, and the occult.
Find out more on the Victorian Secrets website.