In recent years, vampires have regained their popularity. You can’t walk past a bookshop without seeing dozens of teenage and adult books about the lives and loves of vampires. Count Dracula is the most famous vampire of all time, but he was far from the first.
Prehistoric people placed large stone monuments over graves to prevent the dead from rising. The Egyptian Book of the Dead makes mention of the dead rising and finding nourishment by drinking the blood of the living.
The vampire, Dracula, was based on Vlad the Impaler who lived between 1431 and 1476. He was rather an unsavory character. He was rather fond of hurting people, skinning them alive, or impaling them. He would even dip bread into the blood of his enemies and eat it. After he was murdered, his grave was mysteriously found empty.
Of course, vampires in books and movies deviate from the legendary vampires. They are usually aristocratic and beautiful to look at. They are also pale and ancient, whereas the vampires from folklore were typically shapeless peasants that had recently died. Their stories were, after all, intended to frighten others.
The idea that sunlight kills vampires is a recent invention. During the 18th Century, people became so obsessed with vampires that they started to dig up bodies just to kill them again. In some places, people accused of being vampires were gruesomely killed.
Today we enjoy tales of heroic vampires who spurn the habit of drinking human blood and who can co-exist peacefully with their human counterparts, as shown by this infographic that portrays some of the most iconic vampires.