The Georgian Era is the time period between 1714 to 1830 in the history of England. This time period got its name from the four King Georges that ruled the throne of the United Kingdom during these years. The period is specifically remembered for the changes in the social and political structure of the country that resulted in a transition of the English society from a traditional to a modern one.
It would not be incorrect to call the people of the Georgian Era as forerunners in a number of areas. This is a period when industrialization started to take over England, railways were invented and planned towns and cities started to emerge. In the field of arts as well, the people of the Georgian Era started many new trends that continued to be followed by the succeeding generations of the Victorian Era.
Changing Literary Scene of the Georgian Era
The Georgian Era was a time of change and this change was not only material and physical but was also observed in the way people used to think. The changes are reflected by the literature that they produced in the 18th century, most of which is considered as classics in the contemporary world.
During the Georgian Era, the wave of Romanticism was sweeping the entire continent of Europe. The French, Italian and even German writers had started to look at the classical literature of their times to look for new ideas. The return to nature movement resulted in the people following a traditional lifestyle and embracing the legacy of their forefathers.
Within England, people had started to travel more to foreign lands. This helped them to broaden their knowledge base and include more fresh ideas from the literary works of these nations. Back in the homeland, the only poetry that was available for them was the court poetry from the age of reason. The economic and political changes resulting in the people to demand literature that they could relate to.
The combined effect of these changes was the birth of the novel. The novel was born during the Georgian Era and almost immediately became the most popular form of literature. The new age novels talked about the lives of the common people. With the increasing effect of the Romantic movement, the appearance of magic and mythology also began to be seen. Gradually, vampire stories became not only common but also a favorite of a majority of readers of the Georgian Era.
Advent of the Vampire Myth and its Popularity
The character of a vampire made its debut in a German poem The Vampyre which was written by Heinrich August Ossenfelder in 1748. By the second decade of the 18th century, the myth of the vampire had started to infiltrate the literary scene of England. Within the next ten years, it had become a popular and completely different genre of its own.
As the vampire myth traveled to England, the vampires started to have more specific character features. They were mostly men with a great physique and looks who were often rejected by the women that they love. In order to avenge their rejection, they ‘kiss’ other people and make them vampires by sucking their blood.
The backdrop of the vampire stories allowed the writers to have many sexual overtones and undertones in their works. Most vampire stories of the 18th century were full of elaborate scenes of sexual encounters between the vampires and mortal characters with an abundance of erotic imagery.
Vampire Literature of the Georgian Era
The myth of vampires was brought into the literature of England by Robert Southey when he published his 1797 poem Thabala the Destroyer. The story was inspired by a Greek folk tale in which a girl of a Christian family falls in love with a man.
However, her mother does not approve of the man and forces the girl to become a nun. The pain of losing her lover takes her to her death bed. Her lover then turns into a vampire to avenge her death in Southey’s version.
One of the greatest poets of his times, Samuel Taylor Coleridge also used the legend of the vampires in a subtle manner in his famous poem Christabel. Published in 1816, the poem is the story of a girl named Christabel who is seduced by Geraldine. Geraldine is a female character who is almost like a vampire, even though Coleridge never makes it explicit in the poem.
Even after the end of the Georgian Era, the stories of the vampires continued to amuse the readers of England. Their popularity reached the heights after the publication of Dracula by Bram Stoker in 1897.
He made the vampire a central character of his work and gave his emotions like real people. As people started to associate themselves with the vampires, the genre became a bigger hit and has continued to inspire arts and literature even today.