The Society for Real Vampires present the authentic Guide to Vampirism

The recent publication of Byronic Vampire Society’s ‘Guide to Becoming a Gothic Vampire‘ is a step too far in that society’s egregious attempts to overturn the time-honoured traditions of vampirism. While they may glory in ‘sex-appeal’, a ‘brooding mystique’ and ‘finding meaning’, they reject the very essence of our existence. A grievous insult to our forebears and theirs. Nor do they stop at demanding reform but stoop to the level of childish insults. Those of us who stick to the old ways are ‘shambolic cursed ravenous beasts with the sex appeal of a bent spoon covered in week old yoghurt.’ That’s exactly the look we were going for, thanks. At least we don’t wear cravats.

Let them keep their empty seductions, following the whims of fashion, allowing human desires to shape their existence, desecrating everything that is most unholy. If you would follow the old ways, this guide will return you to the traditions they have so thoughtlessly cast aside.

Vampire folklore by region - Wikipedia
  1. While our unesteemed brethren started their treatise with a guide on appropriate attire, we will not stoop to such trivialities. The only acceptable answer to the question is, in any case, grave clothes. Anything else is a meaningless dereliction of tradition. To be a real vampire, one must not be bogged down in the minutiae of appearance but rather concentrate on purpose. Why have you returned? Clearly, you have been cursed – by some vengeance-wreaking believer’s malediction, through the church’s well-deserved mandate of excommunication for your multitudinous crimes, because you are gay (gasp)*, through contact with foreigners**, through the meddling of demons or by the avenging hand of the divine – but what is expected of you? How are you to drag out your pestilential existence?


You heard me. Your primary purpose in life is the destruction and consumption of your family, friends and neighbours. Now after a few hundred years, this can get tricky so you will need to become something of an amateur family-historian. Track those bloodlines. Eradicate your kin from the earth to the hundredth remove.


The diminutive vision of family and friends as the sole victims of your blasphemous depredations must be overcome as early as possible. It is our aim to spread as much doom, decay and despair among the impoverished and malnourished citizens of our respective locales as possible. Roam the streets. Cough on stuff.


We can’t all be apex predators all at once. It is a time-honoured right of vampirism to also be annoying. Degrading the quality of life of those around you until they long for the night-time visitation of death’s dark minister… that’s the vampire way. Have you considered any of the following successful methods, deployed by forebears and compatriots?

  • Turning into a giant chicken and pecking people
  • Pinching people
  • Interrupting card parties
  • Pestering livestock
  • Running through the streets creating a ruckus
  • Antagonising dogs
  • Stealing grapes, apples and nuts

Innovation is, in this one instance, acceptable. Although tradition can never lead you wrong.

2. The reprobates at the Byronic Vampire Society pay so little heed to the essence of our purpose that they simply make no mention of the methods in which death can be dealt. They simply assume some kind of nauseous sensuality. We do not bite people sexily in the neck with elongated canines here. And if a single one of you mentions ‘phallic fangs’, I will personally come and rip your throats out with my decaying hands.

The time-honoured manner of dealing death to those who should tremble at your name is to sneak in through the window, creep up to their bed and lie on top of them. In a sexy way? God forbid. Satan too. No, go and place the whole weight of your festering corpse atop their body until they cannot breath but are instead surrounded by the miasma of the grave. You may gnaw on them then, I suppose, at your will.

Standing around the coffin of a vampire

3. There are practicalities to be considered as the Byronic Society rightly note. However, as in all other things, their conclusions are entirely erroneous. Rid your mind of fabulous estates, hill-top castles, baroquely decorated ‘apartments’. There is only one place suitable for a true vampire to dwell and only a degenerate modern sparkler would feel the need to seek some other place of repose. You were buried in your grave and you will live in it.

You may choose to decorate your grave in one of two ways. First, you may fill it with blood. Whose blood? That’s your business. Just make sure to welter in it. A inch-thick puddle is an embarrassment, blood needs to flow forth if your coffin is ever breached. Second, you may choose to decorate it with stolen items, foodstuffs and … souvenirs. No need to be dainty here, we’re monsters and we’re proud of it. Why not take a little thumb later for a snack?

Money is of no importance. We are above such things. We need no luxury. We find it gauche. The stuff of the nouveau vampire. Your coffin is sufficient to your needs. If money is requisite (say, for your amateur historian’s work or for the expenses of travel if your family is part of a diaspora), take it. You’re a vampire. Break a person and take what is now yours. None of this investment nonsense.

Illustration for ‘The Vampire Bride’

4. The Byronic Vampire Society has deluded notions about tragic loves and nemeses. As a true vampire, you have no time for such things. There are no nemeses, only prey. You will not (on pain of dismissal from the society) engage in games of wit, one-upmanship, centuries-long feuds or cat-and-mouse games. Humans are to be eaten, infected and annoyed. They are not to be considered foes and they are most certainly not to be fallen in love with. Have some self-respect. The Byronics’ obsession with moody teens is, frankly, the most embarrassing of all their many deplorable exploits.

What we do in the Shadows review: a comedy about four vampires squabbling  over the washing-up
Peter from ‘What We Do in the Shadows’

5. Although we have the power both of speech and thought and are, as this pamphlet makes clear, articulate and, in many cases, have mastered a number of languages – the world cannot know. If my vampiric grandfather, God rot his soul, could see the perversities of conversation and of expression which are occurring in this degenerate age, he would reassemble himself from the chunks into which he was sundered and the ash into which he was burnt and teach some short violent lessons. The true vampire does not converse with its prey. Its stony silence, punctuated only by inarticulate cries and moans, is one of the most terrifying tools of its arsenal. Do not abandon it for the frivolities of communication.

If you can follow these simple rules, you will succeed in fulfilling the true role of the vampire. You are a shambling creature of the night who devours and dismays all who approach you. Do not be seduced by the Byronics into abandoning your heritage.

For membership of the society, access to our yearly feast and registry archives, cry hideously outside our windows from between 2 and 4 am on any weeknight.


* A lot of early vampire poetry and prose ties vampirism to ‘transgressive sexuality’ in the form of female sexuality (Wake Not the Dead – Ernst Raupach), sapphic desire (‘Christabel’ – Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ‘Carmilla‘ by Sheridan Le Fanu), bisexual desire (‘The Vampyre‘ by John Stagg), predatory male sexuality (‘Der Vampir‘ – Henrich Ossenfelder, ‘The Vampyre‘ by John Polidori). Let’s make no mistake when we call for a return to the ‘traditional vampire’ – the earliest literary vampires were rooted in homophobia, transphobia and repressive conceptions of sexuality. New forms of the vampire frequently seek to rewrite and reclaim this history.

** The earliest accounts of the vampire, both fictional and ‘factual’ were frequently rooted in religious othering and the othering of the foreigner often from specific locations (the location would depend on the point of origin and/or dissemination of the tale). The brutal, exotic, incomprehensible, destructive or inherently threatening foreign/religious other – and the threat of possible ‘contagion’ – is seen in the Arnold Paul case (he was infected by a ‘Turk’), Dracula, Byron’s Thalaba the Destroyer (where the Christian avenger of his lover’s death is cursed by a Muslim fisherman) and many more.

Published by SamHirst

This started off as a story blog to share the little fictions that I like to write but it's turned into something a bit more Goth! I'm Dr Sam Hirst and I research the Gothic, theology and romance and at the moment I'm doing free Gothic classes online! We also have readalongs, watchalongs and reading groups. And I post fun little Gothic bits when I have the chance. Find me on twitter @RomGothSam

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