Last year, I discussed a compelling book in development: Richard Sugg’s two volume work, Faces of the Vampire. His previous book, Mummies, Cannibals and Vampires: The History of Corpse Medicine from the Renaissance to the Victorians (2011), was well-received and left me wondering what Sugg has up his sleeve for the new one. Here’s a recap:
As far as I know, it’s the first single author, two-volume non-fiction vampire work since Klaus Hamberger’s Mortuus non mordet: kommentierte Dokumente zum Vampirismus 1689–1791 and Über Vampirismus: Krankengeschichten und Deutungsmuster 1801–1899 were published in 1992. Before that? Montague Summers’ The Vampire, His Kith and Kin (1928) and The Vampire in Europe (1929).
Two things excite me about this upcoming book. Firstly, although I haven’t read [Sugg’s book] Mummies, Cannibals and Vampires, I have read an article he wrote for The Lancet . . . And have a scroll through his publications . . . : the guy looks like he’s got a good grasp on the pathological aspect of vampirism, an angle mastered by Paul Barber—who wrote one of the best-ever books on vampires, Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality (1988; 2010). Second, the very prospect of a two-volume work by an author of that pedigree suggests a level of comprehensiveness on the subject rarely seen in English language works.
After reading and responding to Erin’s intrigued comments on the post, I decided to contact Sugg to get a “progress report” on the book. He told me,
Many thanks for interest in this. Volume one (now titled The Real Vampires) is more or less finished, but things have been rather slow between me, agent and publishers, because of long summer break in New York. (email to author, Tuesday, 9 September 2014 7:48:22 PM)
It’s hard for me to get excited about new non-fiction vampire publications, as most tend to be the usual regurgitations of stuff we’ve all read before—but I’m very excited about this one.
As mentioned, a “single author, two-volume non-fiction vampire work” is something almost unheard of—and Sugg, a lecturer in the Department of English Studies, Durham University—has demonstrated a pretty good grasp on the subject. We could very well be dealing with a masterpiece-in-the-making. This book must be published.
I’ve decided to round-up some vampire articles Sugg’s written for your reading pleasure—and to give a taste of what-could-be. Bon appetit!
- “Corpse Medicine: Mummies, Cannibals, and Vampires,” The Lancet (June 21, 2008)
- “Prescientific Death Rites, Vampires, and the Human Soul,” The Lancet (February 26, 2011)
- “Vampire Beliefs Still Have Bite,” The Guardian (June 8, 2012)
- “Vampires and Poltergeists,” History Today (October 30, 2013)
Update: Jan. 11, 2015
Mr. Sugg asked me to remove the passage referring to an agent he is no longer associated with. His book is still seeking a publisher.