I believe Dracula in Stoker was portrayed as clever -- not sure that this is explicitly discussed anywhere in the book: wisdom acquired through the centuries or supernatural cunning. In Salem's Lot, Stephen King has characters talking about what a good chess player the vampire Barlow would be, and I believe this is because he had lived for so long. Anne Rice also portrayed vampires as more intelligent than humans due to the major change in their physiology/nature. Who was the first to attribute superhuman intelligence to vampires?

  • I've edited the post to focus attention on only one of the questions that the OP asked -- hopefully no more than required by Exchange guidelines. Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 1:21

1 Answer 1


In his 1816 short story "The Vampyre" (published in 1819), John William Polidori introduces the vampire Lord Ruthven. While not directly described as superhumanly intelligent, he is certainly very clever: He appears to be dying, but before he dies, Ruthven makes his friend Aubrey (the protagonist of the story) swear an oath that he will not mention his death or anything else he knows about Ruthven for a year and a day. Ruthven comes back to life and begins seducing Aubrey's sister - but his oath prevents Aubrey from warning his sister, who is set to marry Ruthven the day the oath expires. This setup by Ruthven indicates at least a high level of cunning.

Polidori based "The Vampyre" on Lord Byron's "Fragment of a Novel", also published in 1819, but this unfinished story does not have the resurrection of the vampire, Augustus Darvell, nor the oath and seduction plot.

  • how odd that aubrey remains faithful to his oath even in those circumstances. is it indicated that ruthven was able to insure fealty in some supernatural way?
    – releseabe
    Commented Feb 17, 2023 at 5:13
  • @releseabe: I think that the story was just written in a time where a man's oath was sacred - he couldn't warn his sister without damning himself. You can read the story at Project Gutenberg and check if there another reason mentioned. gutenberg.org/ebooks/6087 Commented Feb 17, 2023 at 11:08

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