Varney the Vampyre (Part 1)

May 27, 2009 at 1:29 am (Classical Vampire Literature, Vampires around the World) (, )

Varney The Vampyre

Varney The Vampyre

VARNEY THE VAMPYRE or The Feast of Blood is considered the first vampire novel written in English. It was published as a serial novel or as they were then called a Penny Dreadful. Varney began in 1845 and ran for two years and 109 installments, 220 chapters in all.

Penny Dreadfuls, also called Penny Bloods and Blood and Thunders, were 8 page booklets that sold for a penny. At a time when the price of books were beyond the common man, Penny Dreadfuls filled the insatiable hunger of the masses. They were the soap operas of the day. You could compare Varney to Dark Shadows, each episode packed with excitement and adventure and romance.

There is a question about who actually authored Varney since Penny Dreadful authors were rarely identified, but authorship is generally credited to Thomas Preskett Prest or James Malcolm Rymer. Both men were part of Publisher Edward Lloyd’s stable of writers. Prest and Rymer were among Lloyd’s best and most prolific writers. Each was capable of working on as many as ten serial novels at one time. Though it will probably never be determined with any certainty, Rymer is thought to be the actual author.

Varney is very much a product of its times, a gothic novel filled with the dark nights, romantic castles, hauntings that were so popular at the time. It was also written as a serial novel, so it is more episodic than a story with a complex plot and storyline. This is because if the story’s popularity declined, an author might be told to end a story with the next week’s episode. Varney is a classical read, much like the books Frankenstein or even Dracula, which bear little resemblance to the vision we have of either book based on the movies.

Varney may not be great literature but it is fun to read.


  1. Jina Bacarr said,

    Fascinating info! I noticed this is Part 1–is part 2 an excerpt from Varney? Be back tomorrow to find out…


    The Berlin Sex Diary of Lady Eve Marlowe

  2. Destineers said,

    Sometimes the fun reads are just what the doctor ordered though!

    Nancy, from Just a Thought…

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