In modern vampire fiction, it is almost universally true that vampires are created when a vampire drains a human of blood, then forces/entices/allows the human to drink blood from the vampire in return. See, for example, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, Dracula, Being Human, and basically every modern "urban fantasy" novel.

As far as I can tell, this is a modern invention; traditional folklore had a pretty wide variety of vampire origins, but as far as fiction goes, early works like Stoker's portrayed vampirism as more of a contagion. The vampire fed on a victim, and they would sicken and die, then rise as a vampire the next night.

Which work of fiction introduced the blood-sharing idea into modern vampire mythology? And is there any known folklore basis for this idea?

  • Agree with Alan Shutko in the comment below that as far as I can tell this originated with Anne Rice, but I don't have any actual evidence of that. Compare for example with King's Salem's Lot (1975) which uses the "contagion" model, whereas Interview With The Vampire (1976) uses the blood-sharing one. Commented Jan 19, 2014 at 8:45
  • Also, Fred Saberhagen's "The Dracula Tape" beats out Anne Rice by a year... 1975 vs 1976: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Saberhagen#Dracula_sequence Commented Jan 22, 2014 at 4:48
  • I would guess that original myths would not have this blood sharing but did have being a vampire transmitted via bites, assuming that vampire and/or werewolf legends were inspired by rabies. (although i think there is no evidence of rabies spreading from human to human in this manner but perhaps it has been)
    – releseabe
    Commented Apr 17, 2022 at 3:49

1 Answer 1


In Stoker's Dracula the Count forces Mina Harker to drink his own blood:

Kneeling on the near edge of the bed facing outwards was the white-clad figure of his wife. By her side stood a tall, thin man, clad in black. [...] With his left hand he held both Mrs. Harker's hands, keeping them away with her arms at full tension. His right hand gripped her by the back of the neck, forcing her face down on his bosom. Her white night-dress was smeared with blood, and a thin stream trickled down the man's bare chest which was shown by his torn-open dress. The attitude of the two had a terrible resemblance to a child forcing a kitten's nose into a saucer of milk to compel it to drink.


Her face was ghastly, with a pallor which was accentuated by the blood which smeared her lips and cheeks and chin.

and, Mina's version of events:

[Dracula says:] 'Now you shall come to my call. When my brain says "Come!" to you, you shall cross land or sea to do my bidding. And to that end this!'

With that he pulled open his shirt, and with his long sharp nails opened a vein in his breast. When the blood began to spurt out, he took my hands in one of his, holding them tight, and with the other seized my neck and pressed my mouth to the wound, so that I must either suffocate or swallow some of the...

(All the above from chapter 21)

It's pretty clear from the text, if not said outright, that Dracula's turning Mina into a vampire by making her drink his blood, so this part of the mythology goes at least back to Stoker.

  • hrm. i had forgotten that, possibly because Mina doesn't actually become a vampire, but you're absolutely right.
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Jan 19, 2014 at 13:14

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