Lord Ruthven

May 11, 2009 at 1:33 am (Classical Vampire Literature, Vampires around the World) (, , )

Also at that gathering at the Villa Diodati, near Geneva, Switzerland was one Dr. John Polidori. Something about Lord Byron’s story intrigued him, and Polidori took the fragment and turned it into The Vampyre.

He borrowed the older gentleman and an innocent young man traveling together and the mysterious death and the oath to hold it secret. Perhaps Polidori saw himself in the role of the young man, Aubrey, for he was Lord Byron’s young traveling companion. Critics and historians assume that the older gentleman, Lord Ruthven, was a intentionally modeled after Lord Byron.

The Vampyre was published in The New Monthly Magazine in April 1, 1819 and was originally credited to the more famous Lord Byron.

I found The Vampyre long winded and overwritten as many stories of that period, with a frustratingly helpless hero. The character of Lord Ruthven is interesting as revealed through the eyes of the young man. Lord Ruthen enjoys seeing the innocent ruined and the evil rewarded. He is charitable to those who lust, while refusing those who are in true need, taking pleasure at winning a fortune from a family man who can’t afford to lose and yet losing that same fortune to a wastrel, denying the woman of easy virtue to seduce the virgin. I’ve come across very few such villains. The young man finally sees the truth of Lord Ruthven and leaves him behind to travel to Greece.

Here the young man becomes enamored with a beautiful young girl. She warns him of traveling at night because of vampires. He disbelieves and runs into a vampire and in the process loses his love to the vampire’s bite. He himself is badly injured. Lord Ruthven appears to nurse him back to health. They travel on and are attacked by bandits. Lord Ruthven gravely injured. The young man swears an oath to the dying man not to reveal his death for a year and a day with the hint that something terrible will happen because of this promise.

Critics talk about The Vampire as a turning point, where the figure of the vampire changes from that of a monster crawling from the grave, into suave and sophisticated nobleman welcomed in the drawing rooms of society. A romantic figure and a seducer of young women. Following his introduction, Lord Ruthven appears in several novels and plays until after Dracula, in 1897, when his popularity faded. Critics agree that Lord Ruthven is the prototype for all that followed, including Bram Stoker’s Dracula and even Anne Rice’s Lestat.

Lord Ruthven doesn’t act like a vampire. He doesn’t have the usual vampire characteristics. It is only at the end of the story that he is named so.

While I wouldn’t call The Vampire a good vampire novel, it is rather unique, one of the few in which the evil vampire wins.

If you would like to read the story, visit


  1. Destineers said,

    Very insightful post. I am learning a lot more about vampires 🙂


    NA Sharpe

  2. Jina Bacarr said,

    I love your posts–well organized, interesting and written to entice yet also entertain.

    I find this all so fascinating and posted today about Lustmord–lust murder–a vampire-like seduction in Weimar Berln but without the romance.



  3. Enid Wilson said,

    Very interesting, by turning the vampire from monster to romantic figure or seducer, it made this genre well loved by women readers.

    In Quest of Theta Magic

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