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The First: Der Vampire

Vampires have been part of literature for ages and ages now. Almost all of today’s popular fiction authors have at least one vampire story out there; the recently released vampire anthology, By Blood We Live, has shown us that. There are many that think that it was the renowned Bram Stoker and his legendary novel, Dracula (1897) that started it all.  While Dracula and Mina’s tale most definitely made vampires and vampire fiction hugely popular, it wasn’t the first vampire story written. Before Dracula there was the quite popular ‘Carmilla’ (1872) by J. Sheridan Le Fanu, ‘Ligeia’ (1838) by sublimely sinister Edgar Allan Poe, ‘Varney the Vampyre’ (1847) by James Malcolm Rymer and on and on, the list is extensive. But what was the very first vampire work of fiction? Who was the one to first write a creative piece of literature involving a vampire?

The answer to that question is a poem by Heinrich August Ossenfelder, titled ‘Der Vampire,’ which came out in 1748. This poem is generally recognized as one of the very first appearances of a vampire in creative literature.

Der Vampire
By Heinrich August Ossenfelder

My dear young maiden clingeth
Unbending fast and firm
To all the long-held teaching
Of a mother ever true;
As in vampires unmortal
Folk on the Theyse’s portal
Heyduck-like do believe.
But my Christine thou dost dally,
And wilt my loving parry
Till I myself avenging
To a vampire’s health a-drinking
Him toast in pale tockay.

And as softly thou art sleeping
To thee shall I come creeping
And thy life’s blood drain away.
And so shalt thou be trembling
For thus shall I be kissing
And death’s threshold thou’ it be crossing
With fear, in my cold arms.
And last shall I thee question
Compared to such instruction
What are a mother’s charms?

– Moonlight

By Moonlight

Moonlight (aka Amanda) loves to write about, read about and learn about everything pertaining to vampires. You will most likely find her huddled over a book of vampire folklore with coffee in hand. Touch her coffee and she may bite you (and not in the fun way).

6 replies on “The First: Der Vampire”

Thanks for sharing all this about the history of vamp literature..I just recently found this site and LOVE it! Learning so much about vampires. I absolutely love the picture you used for this post. Where is it from and are there any more by the artist? Haha, thanks! :)

The original version of the poem, in german :)

Mein liebes Mägdchen glaubet
Beständig steif und feste,
An die gegebnen Lehren
Der immer frommen Mutter;
Als Völker an der Theyse
An tödtliche Vampiere
Heyduckisch feste glauben.
Nun warte nur Christianchen,
Du willst mich gar nicht lieben;
Ich will mich an dir rächen,
Und heute in Tockayer
Zu einem Vampir trinken.
Und wenn du sanfte schlummerst,
Von deinen schönen Wangen
Den frischen Purpur saugen.
Alsdenn wirst du erschrecken,
Wenn ich dich werde küssen
Und als ein Vampir küssen:
Wenn du dann recht erzitterst
Und matt in meine Arme,
Gleich einer Todten sinkest
Alsdenn will ich dich fragen,
Sind meine Lehren besser,
Als deiner guten Mutter?

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