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In contrast with the powerful male vampire, the female vampire emerged with the many new roles assumed by women in the larger culture and as important models (however fanciful) of female power. As in the movies, Dracula and his male vampire constituency dominated the twentieth-century vampire fiction area. However, some female vampires gained a foothold in the realm of the undead.
The century began with an assortment of short stories featuring female vampires, including F. G. Loring’s “The Tomb of Sarah”, Hume Nisbit’s “The Vampire Maid”, and E. F. Benson’s classic tale “Mrs. Amworth”. Female vampires regularly appeared in short stories through the 1950′s but were largely absent from the few vampire novels. Among the first novels to feature a female vampire was Peter Saxon’s 1966 The Vampires of Finistere. Three years later Bernhardt J. Hurwood (under the pseudonym Mallory T. Knight) wrote Dracutwig, the lighthearted adventures of the daughter of Dracula coming of age in the modern world.
In 1969, possibly the most important female vampire character appeared, not in a novel, but in comic books. Vampirella, an impish, voluptuous vampire from the planet Drakulon, originated in a comic magazine from Warren Publishing Company, at a time when vampires had disappeared from the more mainstream comic books. Vampirella was an immediate success and ran for 112 issues before it was discontinued in 1983. The stories were novelized in 6 volumes by Ron Goulart in the mid-1970′s. Most recently, the character has been revived by Harris Comics and is enjoying a new popularity.
Female vampires have continued to emerge as the subjects of novels. From the 1970′s one thinks of The Vampire Tapes by Arabella Randolphe (1977) and The Virgin and The Vampire by Robert J. Myers (1977). These were followed by the reluctant vampirism of Sabella by Tanith Lee (1980) and the celebrative vampirism of Whitley Strieber’s The Hunger (1981). Through 1981 and 1982, J. N. Williamson wrote a series of novels about a small town in Indiana that was home of the youthful appearing, but old vampire Lamia Zacharias and her various plots to take over the world. In spite of some real accomplishments in spreading her vampiric condition, she never reached her loftier goals. Other significant appearances by female vampires occurred in Live Girls by Ray Garton (1987), Black Ambrosia by Elizabeth Engstrom (1988) and the first of Nancy Collins’s novels, Sunglasses After Dark (1989), which won the Bram Stoker award for a first novel from the Horror Writers of America.
Aleera – Elena Anaya
Santanico Pandemonium – Selma Hayek
Akasha – Aaliyah
Jessica Hamby – Deborah Ann Woll
Also memorable during the 1980′s was Vamps (1987), and anthology of short stories of female vampires compiled by Martin H. Greenberg and Charles D. Waugh. It included some, often ignored nineteenth-century tales, such as Theophile Gautier’s “Clarimonde” and Julian Hawthorne’s “Ken Mystery”, as well as more recent stories by Stephen King and Tanith Lee.
Novels featuring female vampires continued into the early 1990′s. Traci Briery, for example, wrote two substantial novels, The Vampire Memoirs (1991) and The Vampire Journals (1992), chronicling the lives of two female vampire heroines, Mara McCuniff and Theresa Allogiamento. Kathyrn Meyer Griffith’s The Last Vampire looked into the future to explore the problems of a reluctant vampire after a wave of natural disasters had wiped out most of the human race. And not to be forgotten is The Gilda Stories, a lesbian vampire novel by Jewelle Gomez, an African American author.