In British culture, vampires were popularised by Bram Stoker’s nineteenth-century novel, Dracula (1897), and by subsequent Hollywood horror films. However, myths about vampires have been around for centuries, as Dr Richard Sugg describes in this interview with Jason McCrossan.
Whereas Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula was a dark and mysterious aristocrat, Sugg explains that earlier vampires were more ‘democratic’. In historical accounts, vampires are described as being dressed like ordinary peasants, only bloated, shabby, and with long nails (with little mention of the now-infamous fangs). In societies which lacked our modern medical explanations for illness, vampires provided a popular scapegoat for sickness and death, and also for a phenomenon that is now known as a sleep paralysis nightmare.