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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Event Archive

This is an archive of past events within the Department of English Studies. Please see our current events for forthcoming activities.

Some of our public events are recorded and are available as podcasts via our Research English At Durham blog.

Walpole, Vampires, and the Undead

28th November 2017, 18:15 to 19:15, Elvet Riverside 141, Nick Groom (University of Exeter)

Venture into the origins of vampire novels in this lecture from our series on Horace Walpole and his Legacies. Join the conversation via #WalpoleLegacies.

Vampires, as we understand them today, were first discovered in the early eighteenth century when a series of mysterious cases on the borders of the Austro-Hungarian Empire were investigated by Viennese officials. The ensuing reports spread across Europe like wildfire and provoked serious international debates in medical science, theology, and philosophy. In England, meanwhile, the figure of the vampire was seized upon by the press as a prescient political symbol. Although it was to be more than a century and a half before Bram Stoker wrote Dracula, the undead were already haunting the imagination – not least in Horace Walpole’s pioneering Gothic novel The Castle of Otranto, first published in 1764. This lecture explains the influence of the vampire debates on Walpole’s work, analyzes the appearance of the undead in his novel, and describes the influence of Otranto on later vampire fiction.

Contact for more information about this event.


Research in English At Durham (READ) blog showcasing the the literary research emerging from the Department of English Studies


We host a large number of conferences, lectures and seminars each year, many of them open to the public. Find out more on our Events page.


Many of our public lectures, seminars and conferences are recorded, and can be listened to as podcasts.

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