Saturday, April 25, 2015

A-Z: U is for The Union Jack & V is for Varney the Vampire

The letters I'm posting for today is U & V for the A-Z Challenge. U is for The Union Jack and V is for Varney the Vampire or The Feast of Blood.

"The Union Jack"

The Union Jack was another half-penny dreadful created by Alfred Harmsworth in 1894.  In his quest to rid the market of penny dreadfuls, Harmsworth published serials like The Union Jack, offering readers morally cleaner stories with better writing.  In his first serial, he published an editorial statement, promising  his half-penny's featured "...No tales of boys rifling their employers' cash-boxes and making off to foreign lands, or other such highly immoral fiction products."  His strategy worked, of course, as the rise of the half-penny dreadfuls did end the penny dreadful era.  That might seem a bit depressing, but perhaps the violent trend had run it's course with the general public?  The Union Jack had a very successful run of over 35 years, hosting top characters from the penny dreadful era like Sexton Blake.  

I wasn't able to find an ecopy of this publication which seem strange.  There were a fair amount of original copies being sold online, but nothing in e-format.  Sorry. :(

"Varney the Vampire or The Feast of Blood"

Varney the Vampire; or, the Feast of Blood, was a penny dreadfrul written in 1845-47 by the duo goth writing team, James Malcolm Rymer and Thomas Preskett Prest.  The serial is about a "exploits of a deathless creature with an insatiable appetite for blood."  And like many of these goth novels, there are a band of heroes wanted to track and kill the beast.

Varney gave birth to how many of us view vampires today with key characteristics such as "fangs, leaves two puncture wounds on the necks of his victims, has hypnotic powers, and has superhuman strength"  Vampires with their brooding and self-loathing seem to be a favorite pastimes with iconic vampire literature, right?  Did you know it originated from ol' Varney.  Even though many people today aren't that familiar with him, he was the first in a long line of "sympathetic vampires."  The ones we're more familiar with are Dark Shadow's Barnabas Collins, Anne Rice's Louis de Pointe du Lac, Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Angel, and Charlaine Harris' Bill Compton.

Where can I get a copy of Varney the Vampire?

A copy of the Varney the Vampire or The Feast of Blood can be found at Gutenberg.

Wow!  We're getting close the end of A-Z.  You guys having fun yet?

Mina Burrows


Heather R. Holden said...

Varney the Vampire sounds familiar to me, although I can't place why. May have to check this out sometime, since I can never resist a good vampire story!

S. L. Hennessy said...

I love reading old school vamp tales and seeing how they're reflected in today's more contemporary work.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

He wanted to get rid of Penny Dreadfuls and yet Union Jack became one. Oh, the irony.
I didn't know fangs came from Varney.

djinnia said...

Going to have to check out varney

Timothy Brannan said...

Oh. Varney. I wanted a copy of this so bad back in high school. Then I found one on the early days of the internet.

It didn't quite live up to the hype in my head but I still enjoyed it.

Tim Brannan, The Other Side Blog
2015 A to Z of Vampires

Nick Wilford said...

Sounds great and it's interesting to see the origin of these tropes, so familiar today.