An online event exploring the first black vampire is being held later this month.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: The Black VampyreThe Black Vampyre (Image: University of Hertfordshire)

The Open Minds, Open Graves Project will be looking at ‘The Black Vampyre and Other Creations: Gothic visions of new worlds’ as part of the Being Human Festival 2020.

The convenor of the project is vampire expert Dr Sam George from the University of Hertfordshire.

The free Zoom event will focus on a group of visionary Gothic writers and their dreams of new worlds and the creatures that inhabit them, notably Mary Shelley’s plague world, John Polidori’s The Vampyre, and the ghosts of World War 1.

The research group will encourage audiences to discover the first black vampire in literature, the first vampire story by an American writer, and the first vampire anti-slavery narrative, directly inspired by Polidori.

Dr Sam George, associate professor of research at the Hatfield-based uni, said: “Surprisingly, The Black Vampyre is relatively unknown, even in Gothic circles.

“We’ll be celebrating the diversity of the Gothic and its audiences, engaging with young adults and black and minority ethnic groups.

“We’ll be embracing the ethical side of Gothic, shifting away from horror, to cultivate a sense of moral agency.

“Gothic narratives can create empathy for the marginalised, monstrous or othered, and help young adults make sense of the liminality they inhabit.”

The virtual event will include talks, a virtual graveyard tour of St Pancras Old Church, the resting place of John Polidori and the scene of Mary and Percy Shelley’s courtship, and a Gothic flash fiction writing competition.

This competition pays tribute to the story writing evening that saw Mary Shelley produce the first fragment of Frankenstein, together with the first fictional vampire, in a story told by Byron, and developed by Polidori.

Attendees will have access to resources about the text, supplementary material, and Being Human’s Black Lives Matter resources for the humanities.

‘The Black Vampyre and Other Creations: Gothic visions of new worlds’ will take place online from noon to 3pm on Saturday, November 14.

This is a free event but you will need to obtain a ticket to attend. For further information and to book tickets visit