1901 – 1950



Luigi CapuanaJune 28: Catania, Sicily – A naturalist approach to the phenomenon of vampires is found in the fictional work of Luigi Capuana, an Italian author and journalist and one of the most important members of the Verist movement. “Un Vampiro”  (1904; 2nd edition 1907) is a booklet containing two stories (in addition to “A Vampire” is also “A Fatal Influence”) that the author dedicated to his “illustrious friend” Cesare Lombroso. The author aims at an objective description of facts that could be explained scientifically (vampirism as an hallucination), although some skepticism remains at the end of the novel. This is said to be the most famous vampire story of Italian literature, presented in a dry tone intentionally inspired by positivism.(Article 1, 2)


Ivan VasilyVladivostik, Russia – The tale of the  Ivan Vasily, a Russian steam ship plagued by unexplained deaths and sightings of a malevolent entity, draws to a close. Dockworkers and sailors in Vladivostok set the ship, docked there for several years – unable to find a replacement crew, on fire. They later swear that before the ship went under, they heard an eerie scream coming from the hulk. (The notion that air escaping from a sinking ship could make a similar sound does not appear to have featured in the account). Since its construction in St Petersburg in 1897, numerous crew members are reported to have died or committed suicide or abandoned ship out of fear for the unknown presence. The tale of the Ivan Vasily spans a decade and is one of the most terrifying and shocking marine ghost stories in history. There is however, little independent material or documentary evidence to support any of these claims.  (Article)


Italy – The historical folkloric connotations of vampirism, as documented at the time of the vampiric plague hysteria, become the subject of “Vampiro”, a novel written in 1908 by Enrico Boni. It is perhaps the only work that illustrates the popular universe of superstition and fears of the rural culture.


England – Egyptologist, L.W. King’s translations of the Code of Hammurabi suggest blood drinking as part of cultural practice in Ancient Babylon.

September 17: Galazanna, Portugal – The Ottawa Free Press reports that the bloodless corpse of a child has been found in a field in Galazanna, Portugal, and the only suspect is a man called Salvarrey. Salvarrey confesses at his trial that he is a vampire.  (Article)

By 1911 “vampire” is used to mean “a woman who intentionally attracts and exploits men”. Also the verb “to vamp” means “to behave seductively and exploit”. Hence early silent movies of this era feature the use of the word “vampire” or “vamp” in their titles in this context.


The author of “Dracula”, Bram Stoker dies.

“The Secrets of House No. 5”, a vampire movie, is produced in Great Britain.


“Dracula’s Guest” by Bram Stoker is published, a year after the author’s death.


Czinkota, Hungary – The case of Bela Kiss, aka “the Vampire that Got Away” – the prosperous Hungarian tinsmith who was drafted into the war in 1914, and never returned home, breaks. Kiss (pronounced “Kish”) was reported to have died of wounds received at the front. At the end of the war, when his house and estate is wound up, 24 large metal drums thought to hold industrial alcohol were found at his home. When they were opened, the corpses of women were found stuffed inside, their throats slashed and bodies drained of blood. Among the corpses reportedly found are his wife Marie and her lover, Paul Bihary. Rumors circulate that Kiss did not die in the war, but that he traded documents with a younger soldier killed, and fled to America, where a detective claims to spot him in New York. Kiss is never arrested or heard from again and the matter remains unsolved.

July 9: New York City, New York, USA – the New York Times mentions a play called “The Vamp” starring Enid Bennett.  By this time, in terms of understanding in fiction or in spiritualist circles, there are two kinds of vampire: the spirit of a dead person, or a corpse reanimated by their own or another person (ethereal or physical).


Russia – “Dracula”, the first film based on the novel by Bram Stoker, is made in Russia. No copy is known to have survived and is presumed to be lost in the turmoil of the Russian Revolution.


Hungary – filmmakers produce a version of “Dracula”.

September 17: Russia – Baron Roman von Sternberg-Ungern, a nobleman in post-revolutionary Russia, and General in the ill-fated “White Russian” army, is captured and executed by Red Russian forces after invading Soviet-held territory from Mongolia. Known as the “Bloody Baron”, it is claimed that the Baron drank human blood on occasion, although it is possible that this is a fabrication by his political opponents.


1922_NosferatuMarch 4: Germany – “Nosferatu” (“Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror”), directed by F. W. Murnau, a German-made silent film produced by Prana Films, and an unauthorized adaption of Bram Stoker’s Dracula – is released in Germany. It is the third attempt to film the Dracula tale and remains a much sought-after classic to this day. (Article)

April: London, England – The “Coventry Street Vampire” case – in the spring of 1922, an enormous black bat-like creature with a wing span of six feet is seen flying around West Drayton Church during the night of a full moon. Several terrified witnesses report watching the creature dive into the churchyard, where it allegedly roamed the tombs. When chased by two policemen, the creature lets out a loud screech, flapping its wings, and soars skywards. An witness later claims he had seen the giant bat twenty-five years previously, maintaining that it was the spirit of a vampire who had murdered a woman to drink her blood in Harmondsworth in   the 1890s. Both cases, although viewed separately by everybody else, later continue to be attributed to the so-called “Highgate Vampire” by Sean Manchester and his following.

April 16: London, England – An office clerk on his way to work is attacked while walking down Coventry Street in London’s West End. In Charing Cross Hospital, where he wakes up, the man claims he felt blood being drawn from his neck before being thrown to the pavement, unconscious. The surgeons who quiz him suggest he was attacked with a hypodermic syringe. Two and a half hours later a second man was brought to the same hospital. He too is bleeding profusely from the lower neck, and when he regains consciousness, relates how he was attacked in Coventry Street – on the very same corner. Later that evening a third victim is admitted to the hospital. Police report that the latest victim had been stabbed at precisely the same spot as the two other casualties – at a turning off Coventry Street. An investigation into the bizarre crimes is launched as rumors of a vampire at large in London sweep the capital. The Daily Express reports the sinister Coventry Street assaults and ask the police if they had any theories on the strange crimes. A police spokesman reluctantly admits that the injuries sustained by the three men at Coventry Street defy rational explanation, and report no progress in the case. A rumor starts that the police have hired a vampire hunter, who claims to have staked the vampire. Regardless, the attacks ceased soon after. However, as a caveat to this lengthy tale, the vampire had been secretly interred with a wooden stake through its heart in a deep vault up in Highgate Cemetery. The rumor was traced to a pub in Covent Garden where an off-duty policeman told a landlord of his part in the vampire hunt that had stretched across London. It is of course, easy to dismiss the policeman’s yarn as fanciful, but by a strange coincidence, London’s second vampire scare took place at Highgate Cemetery forty-eight years later, under the name “The Highgate Vampire”.


Derby, England – Hamilton Deane’s stage version of “Dracula” opens in Derby. The playwright is the innovator who introduces the cliche’d cloak with collar used by Dracula actors ever since. The reason for this was the dark backgrounds in use on stage sets for Dracula, and when the actor turns his back on the audience, the collar would hide his face, making it seem as if “Dracula” had vanished.

Hanover, Germany – Fritz Haarmann is arrested, tried, and convicted of killing more than 20 people in a vampyric crime spree.

The fictional character, Sherlock Holmes, has his only encounter with a vampire in “The Case of the Sussex Vampire.”


April 15: Hanover, Germany – Fritz Haarmann, “the Vampire of Hanover” who murdered up to 40 young children in the economic depression in post WW1 Germany, is executed.


February 14: London, England – A stage version of Dracula debuts at the Little Theatre in London.

October 2: New York City, New York, USA –  American stage version of “Dracula”, starring Bela Lugosi (born Bela Blasko on October 20, 1882, in Lugos, Hungary) opens at Fulton Theater. His success in this role would define the rest of Lugosi’s acting career as the quintessential Count Dracula. (Article)

1927_London After MidnightDecember 3: USA – The release of “London After Midnight”, the first full-length vampire feature film. Also known as “The Hypnotist”, this American silent mystery film with horror overtones was distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The film is based on the short story “The Hypnotist” by Tod Browning who also directs the film. London After Midnight stars Lon Chaney, Marceline Day, Conrad Nagel, Henry B. Walthall, and Polly Moran. [The movie is now lost and remains one of the most famous and eagerly sought of all lost films. The last known copy was destroyed in the 1967 MGM Vault fire. In 2002, Turner Classic Movies aired a reconstructed version using the original script and film stills.] (Article)


Montague SummersEngland – The first edition of Montague Summer’s influential work “The Vampire: His Kith and Kin” in which he traces the presence of vampires and vampire-like creatures in the folklore around the world, from ancient times to the present, appears in England. He also surveys the rise of the literary and dramatic vampire.


England – Montague Summer’s second vampire book, “The Vampire in Europe”, which focuses on various vampire accounts in Europe, especially Eastern Europe, is published.

England – Prominent British occultist, author, psychologist, teacher, artist, and mystic, Dion Fortune (born Violet Mary Firth) publishes one of her more popular books, “Psychic Self Defence”. This book comes from her own experiences gained during the course of her occult work. Fortune also reports witnessing various instances of psychic attack which she was called on to interrupt. Among the elements of a psychic attack, she notes, is “vampirism that left the victim in a state of nervous exhaustion, and a wasting state”. From this, Fortune propounds an occult perspective on vampyrism. She suggests that masters of the occult have the ability to separate their psychic self from their physical body and attach themselves to others and drain the host’s energy. Such persons would then begin to, unconsciously, drain the energy from those around them.

Ploughkeepsie, New York, USA – Occultist and author, William Seabrook describes meeting a girl he knew, Mary Lensfield, a resident of Brooklyn, who reportedly made her living translating children’s books in the 1930s. But her life-style belied her strange secret – she had an uncontrollable urge to drink blood, a habit picked up while a student at Vassar. She fulfilled this need by sucking the blood from cuts. Apparently she was a pretty woman, with pale skin, red hair, and green eyes — the last person that you would expect to be a vampire. He had come to the shore to take a swim. William cut himself when he dived from a rock on a stone below the surface. His shoulder glistened with fresh blood. When Mary saw the blood her eyes went wide open in a trance-like state. She bit his shoulder and sucked his blood like a leech. A truck driving by brought Mary out of her trance. They sat down and looked at each other. Mary begged to know what was wrong and what she should do. William was reminded of the first time he met Mary. A Madame Ludovesy claimed to heal wounds supernaturally. She tried to prove this by putting her mouth on a cut of the host. Mary was so upset she fainted and now Mary’s mouth had blood smeared on it. William told her to see a psychiatrist which she did. Within a year she died of anemia. When her condition was discovered it was too late and transfusions wouldn’t help her, presumably due to mis-identification of her blood-type. (Article)


January: Spain – A Spanish film version of “Dracula” is previewed.

February 12: New York City, New York, USA – An American film version of “Dracula” with Bela Lugosi premieres at the Roxy Theater. Newspapers report that members of the audiences fainted in shock at the horror on screen. This publicity, shrewdly orchestrated by the film studio, helps ensure more people came to see the film, if for no other reason than curiosity. Dracula is a big gamble for a major Hollywood studio to undertake. In spite of the literary credentials of the source material, there is uncertainty that an American audience is prepared for a serious full length supernatural chiller. Though America had been exposed to other chillers before, such as The Cat and the Canary (1927), this is a horror story with no comic relief or trick ending that downplays the supernatural.

February 19: Washington, USA – The Washington Reporter reports that “Like vampires of legend, Joseph B. Lawrence of Bluefield, West Virginia, lives on the blood of others. He has had 49 transfusions in the past 13 months, which have given him approximately six gallons of blood. Lawrence’s system refuses to manufacture its own blood and doctors hope to give him an adequate supply, by transfusion. Doctors say he is perfectly normal except for the lack of blood.” The article includes a picture of Lawrence. According to another clipping, by 1936, Lawrence ultimately has more than 100 transfusions, mainly from friends. (Article)

July 2: Cologne, Germany – Peter Kurten “the Vampire of Dusseldorf”, Germany, is executed by guillotine after being found guilty of murdering people in a killing spree. Kurten’s execution is greeted with a wave of relief by the people of the city of Dusseldorf, which is struggling in the midst of the Great Depression. Two years later the Nazis would come to power and one of their attractions is a pledge to crack down on “degenerates” such as Kurten and another “vampire” serial killer, Fritz Haarmann, who had been executed in Hanover in 1925. (Article)


October 5: St Augustine, Florida – A man coming to see his brother in the city discovers the dead bodies of his brother, his brothers wife and their three children. All of the dead have open oozing wounds in their throats where someone or something had fed and sucked on the blood from the now dead family. The Turners all appear according to a local doctor to have been dead for two to three days when they were discovered. Every mirror in the house had been broken and several crosses and other religious items the family owned had been thrown out a back window into the back yard. The families cat had been savagely killed and its headless body was thrown on the hall floor. Its head was never found. Blood was smeared on walls through out the house and it was clear that someone had taken a lot of time smearing the blood around. Neighbors say that they heard nothing but a neighbor man two doors down says that he saw a very dark man dressed all in black leave the house just before daylight a day or two before. He said the man walked past him and he clearly heard the man make a hissing sound at him as he walked by him. Police conduct extensive searches and blood hounds are even brought in but no trace of who ever or what ever committed the horrible crime is ever found. The local and Jacksonville newspapers at the time both place the headlines “Vampire Stalks St Augustine”. (Article)


May 6: Germany – The highly acclaimed movie “Vampyr”, directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer, is released. Vampyr had a delayed release in Germany and opened to a generally negative reception from audiences and critics. Dreyer edited the film after its German premiere and it opens to more mixed opinions at its French debut in Paris in September. The film was long considered as a low point in Dreyer’s career, but modern critical reception to the film has become much more favorable with critics praising the film’s disorienting visual effects and atmosphere. (Article)

May 4: Stockholm, Sweden – “The Atlas Vampire” is the nickname given to the unknown assailant who committed the unsolved “Vampire Murder” also known as the Vampire Murder Case.  On May 4 a 32 year old prostitute is found murdered in her small apartment in the Atlas area of Stockholm near Sankt Eriksplan. She had been dead for a couple of days, her skull had been crushed, and the detectives notice that someone had been drinking her blood. (Article)


Germany – An antisemitic Nazi forgery targeting American Jews appears in a 1935 volume of the German antisemitic book “A Handbook on the Jewish Question.” It alleges that American War of Independence era founding politician Benjamin Franklin made comments against Jewish immigration to the United States during a recess in the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1789 (the convention itself was actually held two years earlier). Following is an excerpt from the Nazi forgery: “For more than 1,700 years they have lamented their sorrowful state, namely that they have been driven out of their motherland, but, gentlemen, if the civilized world today should give them back Palestine, and their property, they would immediately find pressing reasons why they could not return there. Why? Because they are vampires, and vampires cannot live on other vampires… They must live among Christians and others who do not belong to their race.” The forgery continues to appear in Egypt (Egyptian Government Weekly) and in other places as part of antisemitic propaganda for decades afterwards, even into the 21st century.


May 11: USA – “Dracula’s Daughter” is released by Universal Pictures.

January 16: New York City, New York, USA – District of Columbia-born serial killer known as the “Brooklyn Vampire” is executed in New York. Albert Fish grew up in a D.C. orphanage where he was frequently whipped and discovered that he enjoyed pain. He became fascinated by sadomasochism before moving to New York. In 1928, Fish strangled 10-year-old Grace Budd and cannibalized her corpse. Six years later, he wrote Budd’s mother describing the killing in detail. Investigators traced the letter to Fish, who confessed to killing five children. X-Rays of Fish’s pelvic region showed at least 29 needles had been inserted into his body. On his way to the electric chair, Fish told the guards, “It will be the supreme thrill, the only one I haven’t tried.” (Article)


January 22: USA – “I Love a Mystery”, a radio drama series about three friends who run a detective agency and travel the world in search of adventure. Their serial “Temple of Vampires” (January 22 – February 16, 1940) has the distinction to be the first ever to cause concerned parents to write letters to a radio network. (Article)


Canada – Canadian author A. E. Van Vogt’s “Asylum” is the first story about an alien vampire.

USA – Parapsychologists B. P. Wiesner and Robert H. Thouless first propose the term “psi” as a more general term to include both extrasensory perception and psychokinesis. The original terminology proposal divides psi into psi-gamma, for cases of cognition, and psi-kappa, for cases of action. These terms are later modified into “passive psi” and “active psi”. The term is included in the Glossary of Parapsychological Terms, for the American Parapsychological Association. (Article)


1943_Son of DraculaNovember 5: USA – “Son of Dracula” (Universal Pictures) stars Lon Chaney, Jr. as Dracula. Notably it is the first film where a vampire is actually shown physically transforming into a bat on screen. It is the third in Universal Studios’ Dracula trilogy, beginning with Dracula and Dracula’s Daughter. (Article)


1944_ House of FrankensteinDecember 1: John Carradine plays Dracula for the first time in “House of Frankenstein”. “Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man” had been the first on-screen pairing of two Universal Studios monsters, but “House of Frankenstein” was the first multi-monster movie


April 24: During World War II, “Operation Dracula” is the name given to an airborne and amphibious attack on Rangoon by British and Indian forces, part of the Burma Campaign. When it is launched, the Imperial Japanese Army had already abandoned the city. (Article)


June 8: London, England – A British jet fighter commissioned by the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, the de Havilland Vampire is introduced to the British public when Fighter Command’s 247 Squadron is given the honour of leading the flypast over London at the Victory Day Celebrations. Following the Gloster Meteor, this is the second jet fighter to enter service with the RAF. DH115 Vampire 15498 ZU-DFH SAAF 277 Malcolm Reid Although it has arrived too late to see combat during the war, the Vampire serves with front line RAF squadrons until 1953 and continues in use as a trainer until 1966, although generally the RAF relegates the Vampire to advanced training roles in the mid-1950s and the type is generally out of RAF service by the end of the decade. The Vampire also serves with many air forces worldwide, including the South African Air Force, setting aviation firsts and records. Almost 3,300 Vampires are built in total, a quarter of them under licence in other countries. The Vampire design is also developed into the de Havilland Venom fighter-bomber as well as naval Sea Vampire variants. (Article)

October 16: UK – Neville Heath, 29, England’s “Gentleman Vampire” serial killer, is executed. During the 1940s, he would pose as an army officer to lure women to hotel rooms. While Heath may not have actually drunk blood from his victims (although there’s speculation that he licked it off one victim’s face), his possession of blood-soaked handkerchiefs, along with the predatory and compulsive nature of his crimes, would qualify him for consideration as a clinical vampire. Arrested and tried for murder, Heath wanted to mount an insanity defense, but while the psychiatrists believed he was sadistic and perverted, they could not say that he was legally insane.


January 15: Hollywood, California – Elizabeth Short is murdered and her body dismembered. Her remains had been left on a vacant lot on the west side of South Norton Avenue midway between Coliseum Street and West 39th Street in the Leimert Park district of Los Angeles. Later examination discovers that her body had been drained of its blood before the dismemberment.  Her severely mutilated body had been severed at the waist and drained of blood and her face was slashed from the corners of her mouth toward her ears, called the “Glasgow smile”. The body had been washed and cleaned and she had been “posed” with her hands over her head and elbows bent at right angles. This case becomes the much publicized “Black Dahlia” murder. Short’s unsolved murder has been the source of widespread speculation, leading to many Black Dahlia suspects, along with several books and film adaptations. (Article)


August 10: UK – John George Haigh, the “Acid Bath Vampire” a serial killer, who killed victims in order to drink their blood and used acid to dispose of their bodies, is executed. Born in 1910 of Plymouth Brethren parents, he confesses to murdering eight people. He pleads insanity and claims that he had drunk his victims blood from a wine glass before disposing of their bodies, although this is more than likely a false statement intended to bolster his insanity plea. (Article)

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