Varney the Vampire is a series of penny dreadfuls by James Malcolm Rymer, originally published 1845–47. The titular character is considered to be the fist sympathetic vampire in fiction.


The author was paid by the typeset line.[1] As a result the author took every attempt to increase the verbiage with Varney pausing at regular intervals before putting the bite on a victim as well as long descriptions of the setting. This rambling went on for 207 weeks, with Varney getting repeatedly killed and raised by moonlight and several other means until the author had Varney chuck himself into Mount Vesuvius. In 1847 the work was put into book form. The result was an 876 double-columned page monstrosity divided into 232 chapters.[2]


According to Wikipedia:

"Varney was a major influence on later vampire fiction, most notably the renowned novel Dracula (1897) by Bram Stoker. Many of today's standard vampire tropes originated in Varney: Varney has fangs, leaves two puncture wounds on the necks of his victims, has hypnotic powers, and has superhuman strength.[3] Unlike later fictional vampires, he is able to go about in daylight and has no particular fear of either crosses or garlic. He can eat and drink in human fashion as a form of disguise, but he points out that human food and drink do not agree with him. His vampirism seems to be a fit that comes on him when his vital energy begins to run low; he is a regular, normally functioning person between feedings."

Further Research

Book Reading

Audio recordings



  1. Skal David J (1996) V is for Vampire Plume pg 210-212
  2. Due to numerous errors in the chapter numbering thanks to a confusion with the Roman numbers the first edition lists the last chapter as "CCXX" (220), 12 less then it should have been. - Skal David J (1996) V is for Vampire Plume pg 210-212