13 Famous (and Mostly) Literary Vampires

Vampires have been around for centuries. They have a long and complicated history with varying attributes from morphing into bats or casting no shadows, a fear of garlic, alluring charm, or being unable to be in the sun, but the main characteristic of vampires is the drinking and feeding upon human blood. Read on for famous (and mostly) literary vampires.

No list would be complete without Bram Stoker's legendary 1897 novel Dracula that also introduced the character of vampire hunter Van Helsing. When you hear vampire, you probably think of Dracula and his haunted castle in Transylvania.

“...the world seems full of good men—even if there are monsters in it.”

I'd be remiss to not mention Edward Cullen and his vampire family, first introduced in the mega bestseller Twilight that spawned an entire culture and added a new take to vampire lore: these vampires sparkle. Only one question remains: are you Team Edward or Team Jacob? 

“About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him—and I didn’t know how potent that part might be—that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.”

Carmilla is even older than Dracula. First published in 1872, it features Carmilla, a female vampire that preys on a young woman named Lucy, with sapphic overtones. 

“But to die as lovers may - to die together, so that they may live together.”

Even older than Carmilla is The Vampyre (1819). Remember when Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein as part of a friendly competition suggested by Lord Byron? Lord Byron's physician, John William Polidori, wrote this short story at the same time. Perhaps you'll see the infamous characteristics of Lord Byron in the character of the seductive and magnetic Lord Ruthven.

“...his character was dreadfully vicious, for that the possession of irresistible powers of seduction, rendered his licentious habits more dangerous to society.”

A modern—all right, it's from 1975—contribution to vampire lore is Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot, which introduced Kurt Barlow, a vampire who wants to form his own colony of vampires in Maine. Watch the 1979 miniseries.

“And all around them, the bestiality of the night rises on tenebrous wings. The vampire’s time has come.”

Another famous vampire is Lestat from Interview With the Vampire. Seductive and cruel, Lestat indoctrinates Louis into vampire life in nineteenth century New Orleans (bonus: the film starring Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise).

“I was a newborn vampire, weeping at the beauty of the night.”

Familiar with the television series True Blood? Telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse and vampire Bill Compton are introduced in Dead Until Dark, the first novel in "The Southern Vampire Mysteries" by Charlaine Harris.

“'But there's a juicy artery in your groin,' he said after a pause to regroup, his voice as slithery as a snake on a slide."

The same year Twilight was published, vampire fans were treated to The Historian, a historical fiction novel that takes the vampiric folklore of Count Dracula and mixes it up with a man named Vlad Tepes, perhaps best known to history as Vlad the Impaler, second son of Vlad Dracul. 

“I've noticed Dracula was often as practical a fellow as he was a nasty one.”

If you love a love triangle, check out The Vampire Diaries series book one The Awakening and meet vampire brothers—and sworn enemies—Stefan and Damon, and the beautiful teenager Elena, who is torn between them. The books were made into an eight season television series.

"What made him think that he could rejoin the world of daylight? But he was tired of living in shadows. He was tired of the darkness, and of the things that lived in it. Most of all, he was tired of being alone.”

No vampire list would be complete without Akasha, or perhaps you know her as the "mother of all vampires" or perhaps even better as The Queen of the Damned

“It's an awful truth that suffering can deepen us, give a greater lustre to our colours, a richer resonance to our words. That is, if it doesn't destroy us..."

Do you know Matthew Clairmont? He's a vampire and a geneticist who meets Diana, a witch and history professor, in the first book of a trilogy, A Discovery of Witches. Diana reluctantly enlists the help of Matthew to unlock the mysteries of a bewitched manuscript. Catch the 2019 television series adaption.

“My ideas about vampires may be romantic, but your attitudes toward women need a major overhaul.”

Imagine you're a child with amnesia, and then you discover that you're a genetically-modified 53-year-old vampire named Shori. That's the premise in Octavia E. Butler's novel Fledgling.  

“It felt like something I would want—living together with other people instead of wandering alone. The idea was a little frightening, though. I didn’t know any other people. I knew they existed, but thinking about them, wondering about them scared me almost as much as it interested me.”

What happens when you combine elite Manhattanites, vampires, secret societies and teenage drama? Meet Schuyler Van Alen in Blue Bloods, who doesn't know that she's the first half-blood vampire in existence.

 "Things like vampires and past lives and immortality just didn’t exist in the real world. And Schuyler was a card-carrying member of the real world."

BONUS: I Am Legend, first published in 1954, follows vampire hunter Robert Neville, the last living man on Earth because every person has become a vampire.  

“The strength of the vampire is that no one will believe in him.”

What vampires did we miss? Need more vampire fiction? And don't forget to check out 13 famous (and mostly) literary ghosts.