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Fiction to get your teeth into

Fiction to get your teeth into
Wednesday 27th May 2009 by C. Freeman
Librarian Jamie Jones has produced a display on vampire books, the first in a series exploring different literary genres. The blood-thirsty style dates back to The Vampyre, which was written by Polidori in 1819 and was continued by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu who wrote Carmilla in 1872. Arguably the most well known proponent of the craft was Bram Stoker, who immortalised Dracula in his 1897 novel, supposedly written in Whitby where Stoker was inspired by the stormy sea and silhouette of the ruined hilltop abbey opposite his hotel.

Authors in the 20th century continued their fascination with the 'undead'. The mid-20th century I Am Legend by Richard Matheson featured a pandemic which left the world riddled with vampiric creatures. Anne Rice's 1976 classic 'Interview with the Vampire' was a 'confessional' where a 200-year-old vampire told his tale. This contrasts with the 'splatterpunk' style of SP Somtow which hit the shelves with Vampire Junction in 1984, inspired by the fast-moving, insistent style of the newly-emerging MTV culture.

The 21st century's interpretations of the vampire myth have included the Twilight series, written by Stephanie Meyer, the first of which has already been made into a film. Jamie said: 'Although people may think that Dracula is the first real vampire book the genre has a much longer history. Now in its third century, it is still inspiring new authors and proving popular. In bringing all these books together it gives readers a chance to see how the theme has developed over nearly 200 years. Polidori's tale was inspired at the same time as Frankenstein, written by Mary Shelley and tales of gothic dread have proved popular ever since. I love the classics generally, and wanted to give the students more information on some of these older texts that they might not otherwise encounter. It's really trying to open people's eyes to the history behind the idea. My recommendation to readers would be to try I Am Legend and Vampire Junction, just as something completely different.'

After the success of this first themed display Mr Jones is planning more in the near future, highlighting the author Salman Rushdie and Japanese fiction. He said: 'I love world fiction and I'm always trying to find authors I haven't heard of. There's some great stuff out there that you would never find in your local library or bookshop so I want to try and develop that here at Brooke Weston.'

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