Written first in 1914, and reprinted in 1924, "Vampires & Vampirism" is a classic example of its type. The author, a folklorist and specialist in ancient religions and occult beliefs has compiled out of obscure references and records a huge number of legends about vampire behavior. The book is a confection of such stories, compiled and retold, with the author providing the bare bones framework needed to organize the material and ensure an orderly progression from one to another.
Dudley Wright organizes his reports primarily by country or region. One gets to read of the ancient vampires of Babylonia and Greece, then the scene shifts to Britain, Germany, Hungary, the Balkans, Russia, and the Oriental realms. He even comes up with some modern material in the U.S. Wright is less well organized from a historical viewpoint, but his material covers a period from several millennia B.C. to 1923. Additional chapters discuss the power of excommunication (which is apparently how Vlad the Impaler became Dracula the vampire), living vampires, literary references and a somewhat tedious discussion of whether (or how) vampires existed.
While not a great academic study, the book is more like a compost heap of imaginings waiting for the delectation of the curious, or to feed the fertile imaginations of both readers and authors alike. In digesting it one must keep in mind that, up to the period in which this book was written, vampire literature was still quite scarce. Whether Dudley Wright and his kind are responsible for the resurgence of the vampire tale as an entire genre I cannot say, but it is a tempting to draw that conclusion. "Vampires & Vampirism" is full of interesting little facts and twists and is easy, pleasant reading. For the vampirophile this is one of those volumes without which one's library would be incomplete. In other words, great fun.
Wright has compiled the legends of the vampire worldwide from the beginning of recorded word until the early 20th century. While slightly dated in language usage (this was first written in 19l4), the book is a throughly good read.
It is a must have for anyone interested in the vampire legend - whether you are just curious or an author looking for a new twist on the vampire myth.
As you read, you have to wonder how many of these stories Bram Stoker heard before he wrote his famous "Dracula". While not necessarily in historical order, all the stories are tied by region. Some are so silly as to be humorous, others will just make you wonder.
I would recommend this book to anyone who even has a passing interest in how the legends began.