True Story of a Vampire
“True Story of a Vampire” is actually a short story written by Count Eric Stanislaus Stenbock. The story was published in London in 1894 in “Studies of Death,” a collection of stories which received favorable comment by H. P. Lovecraft himself.
In all honesty, “True Story of a Vampire is a horribly written story (seriously, it’s bad), yet in spite of that, it is still known today for its content and because the author was so incredibly bizarre. In the story, the vampire, Count Vardalek, is one of the earliest examples of a literary vampire choosing as its prey a member of its own sex, an idea which was previously imagined in the 1872 masterpiece “Carmilla” (interestingly, Stenbock’s story is told by a Carmella). Count Vardalek visits the castle of an elderly baron named Wrondki, and develops a predatory passion for the young man Gabriel. The more time spent with Vardalek, the more Gabriel’s health wastes away, until eventually he dies after one final passionate kiss.
By modern standards this story isn’t anything special, but when you consider that this story features homosexuality and it was published in 1894, then it takes on a whole other meaning. An author had to be pretty damn gutsy to publish such a story given the overly conservative times. So Stenbock gets props for that.
As for the author of this tale, Count Stenbock, he was just as I said above – bizarre. He was a slightly insane nobleman (probably due to his addictions to alcohol and opium) who lived in England and wrote some excellent works in verse. He also slept in a coffin and always ate his meals with his pet toad on his shoulders. Not exactly normal behavior.
If you are interested in reading the strange Count’s story “True Story of a Vampire” you can find it in the anthology Dracula’s Guest: A Connoisseur’s Collection of Victorian Vampire Stories.