, , , , , ,

Bram Stoker’s DRACULA, published in 1897, wasn’t the only vampire that year. It may not even have been the most famous in its time. Another work, featuring a female vampire, involved a Nobel Prize winner, the first movie sex goddess, and a romantic scandal.

Painter Philip Burne-Jones created “The Vampire,” a painting of a predatory woman and her hapless male victim. Burne-Jones allegedly modeled his vampire on a beautiful actress, Mrs. Patrick Campbell (that’s how she was billed). It’s said that she had an affair with Burne-Jones, broke it off, and broke his heart, which led him to paint her as a female fiend. Since Mrs. Campbell was famous, people who saw the painting were scandalized.

The painting inspired Rudyard Kipling to write a poem, also called “The Vampire,” that started like so:
A fool there was and he made his prayer
(Even as you or I!)
To a rag and a bone and a hank of hair,
(We called her the woman who did not care),
But the fool he called her his lady fair–
(Even as you or I!)

The poem inspired a play that became the 1915 movie “A Fool There Was,” which made silent film actress Theda Bara a star.

“The Vampire” has continued to echo ever since. Comic-strip adventuress Brenda Starr had a female sidekick named Hank O’Hair. The White Stripes produced a song called “Rag and Bone” — also the name of an upscale clothing line.

Meanwhile, the original painting of “The Vampire” seems to have mysteriously vanished. No one knows where it is. Brrr….

This is the kind of thing that I dip into when I’m not doing the work that I really should be doing.