Friday, 22 August 2014

Seán Manchester's comment on Sarah Bartlett's "Supernatural"

Seán Manchester's comment on Sarah Bartlett's Supernatural:

On August 19th I wrote the following correspondence to Sarah Bartlett. She has not responded:

Dear Sarah Bartlett,

Allow me to introduce myself: I am the author of The Highgate Vampire about which dozens of documentary films have been made. I am uncertain as to whether you read my book before writing your entry about Highgate Cemetery (page 56) in Supernatural (2014), but somehow I doubt it.

The fact is that almost everything in your entry is incorrectly attributed and erroneous. I thought I should contact you first.

I would prefer, if you will permit me, to outline the factual inaccuracies in your book's entry via e-mail, as the list is quite comprehensive; failing which I shall have to employ this method.

I am naturally unhappy with so much of what I did four and a half decades ago being wrongly attributed to somebody else. How it was ever possible is rather difficult to imagine, as the person in question would certainly deny and dismiss all that is alleged in his name.

I shall await your response (hopefully with an e-mail address) before continuing. Then we can proceed to sort fact from fiction.


†Seán Manchester

Supernatural: The World Guide to Mysterious Places

The book is beautifully produced with lots of atmospheric photographs and illustrations. The problem arises where information in the text is provided. Take, for example, Sarah Bartlett's entry on Highgate Cemetery where just about everything she says about the investigation is either erroneous or falsely attributed.

We are told of a "Romanian nobleman and practitioner of the black arts" (in fact, it was first muted by a journalist in a local newspaper back in February 1970). Sarah Bartlett attributes the claim and vampire theory to David Farrant. The newspaper, of course, did not; and nor did the theory originate with Farrant.

We are then told that Farrant believed "after the cemetery opened in the 19th century the vampire occupied one of the vaults." That will certainly come as news to Farrant because it was most definitely not him who stated this.

Referring to the "official vampire hunt on Friday, March 13, 1970," the authoress misinforms her readers that the vampire hunters "found nothing." Anyone the least bit familiar with this case will know that statement to be unsupported by what is written in The Highgate Vampire (BOS, 1985; Gothic Press, 1991). Not only was the vampire's lair  located on that night, but also the vampire's empty coffin was found.

Sarah Bartlett continues: "Meanwhile, Farrant, under the guidance of a psychic, claimed to learn the location of the vampire's grave. One night, he entered an undisclosed family vault and lifted the massive lid off one of the coffins. He was about to drive a stake through the body when his companion persuaded him to stop. Reluctantly, Farrant shut the coffin, and left garlic in the vault."

The scene she describes is taken directly from Seán Manchester's book The Highgate Vampire, but she has attributed everything that happened to a man who was not even present, ie David Farrant, much less was he part of the serious investigation that took place into the vampire case. Sarah Bartlett might just as well as have named Farrant as being the author of The Highgate Vampire instead of the person who actually did write it.

There are other errors in her entry in the chapter titled "Vampire Haunts," but the point has been made. 

The question remains, however, as to how this could come about?

The authoress describes herself as someone with a Diploma in Psychological Astrology who has written twenty "psychospiritual books" and "divides her time between London and the south of France where she teaches and practices astrology and other occult arts." David Farrant describes himself as someone who has been involved in witchcraft and the occult. In the 1970s, Farrant was jailed for graveyard vandalism, desecration and threatening people with black magic. Seán Manchester is a well known author, vampirologist and exorcist who took holy orders in the previous century to become a bishop holding traditional beliefs and views. Were the false attributions in Supernatural: The World Guide to Mysterious Places by accident or design? If the former, the authoress is so inadequate as a researcher that she should surely spend less time in the south of France and more time concentrating on original source material. 

If the latter, well ...

Friday, 15 August 2014

The Highgate Vampire in Art

Paintings and Photography   © †Seán Manchester


"Some years later I completed the portrait I had begun when we first met. It hung in a room where I liked to be alone, play music and write poetry; a room seldom frequented by anyone else." (The Highgate Vampire, 1991 revised/enlarged edition, page 184). 

"The leaves rose in a whirlwind of frenzy before falling aimlessly to the floor. Something cold filled the darkness of that room ... It gathered into a vague shape as a vaporous substance condensed before me and two burning eyes met my own. They gleamed like rich emeralds with glints of fire which reflected in them the very flames of perdition. Then I heard a familiar voice in my ears." (The Highgate Vampire,  Gothic Press, 1991 revised/enlarged edition, page 176).

"Something smiled in the incandescence of the street lamps ... The grip on my hand was icy cold ... a loud hissing emitted from between its gnashing teeth. What ever clung icily to my hand was transforming into a demon from hell." (The Highgate Vampire,  Gothic Press, 1991, page 176). 

Friday, 8 August 2014

The Vampyre & Lord Ruthven

Most extracts are from Seán Manchester's unpublished Memoir:

Lord Byron, parodied as Lord Ruthven by John William Polidori in The Vampyre (1819), fortuitously crystallised an archetypal image that is centuries strong; yet he abhorred the vampire almost to the same extent as do I.
John William Polidori (7 September 1795 - 24 August 1821) is credited by some as the creator of the vampire genre of fantasy fiction. Polidori was the oldest son of Gaetano Polidori, an Italian political émigré, and Anna Maria Pierce, a governess. He had three brothers and four sisters and was one of the first pupils at Ampleforth College. Polidori began his schooling in 1804 shortly after the monks, in exile from France, settled in the lodge of Anne Fairfax's chaplain in the Ampleforth Valley. He went on from Ampleforth in 1810 to Edinburgh University, where he received his degree as a doctor of medicine on 1 August 1815 at the age of nineteen.
In 1816, Dr Polidori entered Lord Byron's service as his personal physician, and accompanied Byron on a trip through Europe. At the Villa Diodati, a house Byron rented by Lake Geneva in Switzerland, the pair met with Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, and her husband-to-be Percy Bysshe Shelley, and their companion Claire Clairmont.
One night in June, after the company had read aloud from the Tales of the Dead, a collection of horror tales, Byron suggested that they each write a ghost story. Mary Shelley worked on a tale that would later evolve into Frankenstein. Byron wrote (and quickly abandoned) a fragment of a story, which Polidori used later as the basis for his own tale.
Rather than use the crude, bestial vampire of folklore as a basis for his story, Polidori based his character on Byron. Polidori named the character "Lord Ruthven" as a joke. The name was originally used in Lady Caroline Lamb's novel Glenarvon, in which a thinly-disguised Byron figure was also named Lord Ruthven.
Polidori's Lord Ruthven was not only the first vampire in English fiction, but was the first fictional vampire in the form we recognise today - an aristocratic fiend who preyed among high society.

Polidori's story, The Vampyre, was published in the April 1819 issue of New Monthly Magazine. Much to both his and Byron's chagrin, The Vampyre was released as a new work by Byron. The poet even released his own Fragment of a Novel in an attempt to clear up the mess, but, for better or worse, The Vampyre continued to be attributed to him.
Dismissed by Byron, Polidori returned to England, and in 1820 wrote to the Prior at Ampleforth; his letter is lost, but Prior Burgess' reply makes it clear that he considered Polidori, with his scandalous literary acquaintances, an unsuitable case for the monastic profession.

In 1821, after writing an ambitious sacred poem, The Fall of the Angels, Polidori, suffering from depression, died in mysterious circumstances on 24 August 1821 at approximately 1:10pm, probably by self-administered poison, though the coroner's verdict was that he had "departed this Life in a natural way by the visitation of God."
Polidori's fate has been to be remembered only as a footnote in Romantic history. Reprints of the diary he kept during his travels with Byron are available, but are rather hard to find for purchase on the internet.
Polidori's diary, titled The Diary of John Polidori, edited by William Michael Rossetti, was first published in 1911 by Elkin Mathews (London). A reprint of this book, The Diary of Dr John William Polidori, 1816, relating to Byron, Shelley etc was published by Folcroft Library Editions (Folcroft, Pa.) in 1975. Another reprint by the same title was printed by Norwood Editions (Norwood, Pa.) in 1978.
As well as being mid-wife to Frankenstein's monster, he was uncle to Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Christina Rossetti.

Three films have depicted John Polidori and the genesis of the Frankenstein and The Vampyre stories in 1816: Gothic directed by Ken Russell (1986), Haunted Summer directed by Ivan Passer (1988) and Remando al viento (English title: Rowing with the Wind) directed by Gonzalo Suárez (1988).

There is a genuine title of Lord Ruthven of Freeland in the Peerage of Scotland which is a subsidiary title of the Earl of Carlisle in the United Kingdom. The fictional characters are not related to the historical title holders.
As previously stated, the first fictional Lord Ruthven appeared in the 1816 Gothic novel Glenarvon by Lady Caroline Lamb. This character was based on the genuine Lord Byron and was not a vampire. Lady Caroline was a former lover of Lord Byron's and the novel did not offer a flattering portrait.

The pseudonym "Ruthwen Glenarvon" (note: the "v" becomes "w" in the forename) was used by some members of the Vampire Research Society throughout the 1970s and 1980s who wanted their anonymity preserved. It was infrequently - yet occasionally - employed in the 1990s, but not thereafter.
Lord Ruthven appears as a main character in Nancy Garden's young adult book Prisoner of Vampires. In this story, Ruthven uses the name "Radu" and is a relation and helper of both Count Dracula and Carmilla.

Lord Ruthven served as the inspiration for a 1945 film, The Vampire's Ghost, which was adapted into comic book format in 1973. Lord Ruthven also appears in the background of the Vampire: The Masquerade game system, under the name Lambach Ruthven.

Kim Newman uses the character of Lord Ruthven in his alternate history Anno Dracula series, having Ruthven serve as the Conservative Prime Minister after Count Dracula seizes the English throne. Ruthven holds the Premiership from circa 1886 until 1940, when he loses it to Winston Churchill. Ruthven later reclaims it following the war, losing it to Churchill again after the Suez Crisis. Ruthven later serves as Home Secretary under Margaret Thatcher and is poised to take over as Prime Minister again following her departure.

Ruthven also appeared in some Superman comics, notably in Superman: The Man of Steel #14 and #42 and Superman #70. He has also appeared in Marvel Comics. Originally, he appeared in the first issue of Vampire Tales, then as the possessor of the mystical book called Darkhold. An incidental character called Ruthven appears in later issues of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman comic; this Ruthven is a man with a rabbit's head, as well as prominent "vampire" fangs.

A comical "Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd" is the main character of Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore. In it, the pastoral Robin Oakapple finds that he is descended from an evil uncle and is forced to take up his ancestor's evil ways.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Burned Memoirs

During his exile in 1822, Byron named the Irish poet Thomas Moore (1779-1852) as his literary executor and handed him a manuscript of his personal memoirs which he wanted to be published at a later date.

But with Byron dead, and the public clamouring for anything bearing his name, the poet's publisher, John Murray, came to a decision. Having been presented with the two volumes of Byron’s memoirs by Moore, he decided on a course of action that would dismay generations to follow.

Byron’s memoirs were to be destroyed.

The Death of Byron painted by Joseph Odevaere.

With the agreement of five of Byron’s friends and executors of his will  the only opposition came from Moore  the men set about pulling apart the pages and burning them in the fireplace of the drawing room.

Whatever Byron had written, Murray believed the memoirs were so scandalous they would for ever damage Byron’s reputation, and possibly his own should he ever publish them. Even Moore, who in 1832 wrote a biography of Byron and was heavily criticised for allowing the memoirs to be destroyed, never divulged their contents.

Of what Byron wrote, which shocked Murray so deeply, we know only one thing: it left the house at Albemarle Street via the chimney.

The matter was patently not related to rumours spread by Lady Caroline Lamb with more than a little help from Lady Annabella Milbanke (Byron's estranged wife) during the poet's life, as these allegations were already widely known. Also, Byron had a life-long habit of fuelling all manner of rumour about himself to hold the centre stage. Not that he really needed to - his life was quite scandalous enough by the mores of the day. Such behaviour in today's England would hardly cause a raised eyebrow or elicit so much as a comment. 

Interviewed by Mark Knight in May 2013, who admitted being "happy but intimidated" to have an opportunity to question the vampirologist, Seán Manchester echoed history with a fateful decision of his own: 

"I have written a memoir which I doubt I shall ever offer for publication. My current instruction is to have it burned to ashes upon my demise."

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Byronic Origin of the Vampirologist Seán Manchester

All extracts are from Seán Manchester's unpublished Memoir:

Once the habitat of the celebrated poet and his ancestors, Newstead would become a symbol of all that is Gothic and Romantic, which now, irrevocably, has slipped into the reservoir of fragmented memory. This is where I played as a child in the avenues of sombre forest trees in Lord Byron’s gloomy abode where the fading twilight coupled with the moan in leafy woods to herald the filmy disc of the moon.

In the year of my first pilgrimage to Lord Byron’s tomb in the company of The Byron Society whose honorary director, Mrs Elma Dangerfield, suspected a personal connection with the poet, I was still yet to hear from Professor Leslie A Marchand himself whose later correspondence in private about the “records of births and deaths of the lower (servant) class in those days” helped establish facts about the poet and Lucy, my great, great, great grandmother. Byron was seldom without consolation of the female kind and of the various servant maids who slipped between his sheets to keep him company at Newstead, Lucy was far and away his favourite. He called her Lucinda, but in a poem she appears as Lucietta.
A letter, 17 January 1809, to John Hanson confirms that “the youngest is pregnant (I need not tell you by whom) and I cannot have the girl on the parish.” On 4 February 1809, Byron wrote to Hanson: “Lucy’s annuity may be reduced to fifty pounds, and the other fifty go to the Bastard.” He had originally provided her with an annuity of one hundred pounds. Three years after making Lucy pregnant he put her in charge as revealed in a letter to Francis Hodgson, written from Newstead on 25 September 1811: “Lucy is extracted from Warwickshire [where his and her son had been weaned]; some very bad faces have been warned off the premises, and more promising substituted in their stead … Lucinda to be commander of all the makers and unmakers of beds in the household.”
Byron’s letters might suggest a callousness in his relationships that is perhaps unwarranted. When his illegitimate child by Lucy was born, he wrote a poem in which he hailed his “dearest child of love.” He had always wanted a son and Lucy provided him with his first and last. Surviving progeny that followed were all female. He composed To My Son when Lucy’s child was born:

Those flaxen locks, those eyes of blue
Bright as thy mother's in their hue;
Those rosy lips, whose dimples play
And smile to steal the heart away,
Recall a scene of former joy,
And touch thy father's heart, my Boy!
And thou canst lisp a father's name--
Ah, William, were thine own the same,--
No self-reproach--but, let me cease--
My care for thee shall purchase peace;
Thy mother's shade shall smile in joy,
And pardon all the past, my Boy!
Her lowly grave the turf has prest,
And thou hast known a stranger's breast;
Derision sneers upon thy birth,
And yields thee scarce a name on earth;
Yet shall not these one hope destroy,--
A Father's heart is thine, my Boy!
Why, let the world unfeeling frown,
Must I fond Nature's claims disown?
Ah, no--though moralists reprove,
I hail thee, dearest child of Love,
Fair cherub, pledge of youth and joy--
A Father guards thy birth, my Boy!
Oh,'twill be sweet in thee to trace,
Ere Age has wrinkled o'er my face,
Ere half my glass of life is run,
At once a brother and a son;
And all my wane of years employ
In justice done to thee, my Boy!
Although so young thy heedless sire,
Youth will not damp parental fire;
And, wert thou still less dear to me,
While Helen's form revives in thee,
The breast, which beat to former joy,
Will ne'er desert its pledge, my Boy!

To My Son, incorrectly dated 1807 by Thomas Moore, was first published six years after Byron’s death. Lucy’s pregnancy, of course, did not take place until early 1809. Moore misread the date. Furthermore, the housemaid did not die the early death of the young mother eulogised by the poet whose “lowly grave the turf has prest.” According to the housekeeper, Nanny Smith, Lucy overcame the “high and mighty airs she gave herself as Byron’s favourite,” married a local lad, and ran a public house in Warwick. The fate of the child enters the forlorn and forgotten realm of so many illegitimate offspring of servants, and does not resurface again until a century later when my Derbyshire maternal grandparents returned the bloodline to Newstead Abbey Park where they purchased twenty or so acres and had a comfortable lodge built almost within the shadow of Byron’s ancestral home. In the poem, Byron changed the scenario of Lucy’s end to conform to the sentimental moralising of the period, which required that the fallen woman must pay with her life: “The mother’s shade shall smile in joy, / And pardon all the past, my Boy!”
The poem addresses Byron’s natural child, challenging the convention that would withhold from his “little illegitmate” a father’s loving concern, along with any claim to social position. Byron’s pride, along with his sense of honour, was offended by the common practice of turning out pregnant maidservants. He knew the fate of country girls who bore illegitimate children, surviving on the pittance provided by parish poor rates, the workhouse, or making their way to the nearest city and entering a life of prostitution. Along with keeping Lucy employed, Byron made provision — exceptionally generous by the standards of the day — for her and their child in his will. Lucy was to have an annuity of £100 (later reduced to £50); the other £50 was to go to the child.
To walk the ancient corridors of the Abbey again was an unearthly experience which filled me with a mixture of strange emotions. There was the haunting drawing of Lady Caroline Lamb and many more pictures of Lord Byron. Childhood memories were stirred and I reflected on the kindred experiences of Countess Guiccioli when she saw the poet’s home for the first time — eight years after his death. Her sad journey would include a lone visit to the poet’s tomb at Hucknall Torkard. From the door, even before there was time for it to close, she prostrated herself on the flagstone that is situated above the remains of Lord Byron. There she remained for over an hour. It was evening when, in the footsteps of the Countess, I arrived at the church wherein the Byron Family Vault dwells beneath the chancel. It simply bears the name BYRON and, underneath, the date of his birth and death. I laid a wreath.

Photograph of a very young Seán Manchester.

Illustration of a very young George Byron.

Below is a copy of the altered (with crossings out) parish register of Linby (the parish closest to Newstead) that has been forensically examined. The missing text reveals: "George illegitimate Son of Lucy Monk; illegitimate Son of Baron Byron of Newstead, Nottingham, Newstead Abbey."

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Seán Manchester on Paul Adams' "Written in Blood"

Paul Adams in his study at his Luton home in Bedfordshire.

Seán Manchester's comment on Paul Adams' Written in Blood:

"I allowed Paul Adams use of my copyright material concomitant to certain conditions being met. These were laid out to him on 13 December 2013. He showed no objection and, indeed, accepted my stipulations; namely that where photographs had previously been published in other books the relevant book's title would be identified to that effect below his own caption for the image in question. This he did with the photograph of me that was first published in Peter Underwood's Exorcism! (1990). This was done because he clearly did not want to give offence to Peter Underwood.

"The montage picture of press coverage that was originally published in the first edition of The Highgate Vampire (BOS, 1985), however, failed to receive the same treatment by the author of Written in Blood who clearly had no qualms with regard to the same offence being meted out to me. His caption merely identifies me as the copyright holder, ignoring the fact that the image originally appeared in the first edition of my own book, as agreed between us in 2013.

"There is much else Paul Adams reneged on in Written in Blood. Certain remarks I had been led to believe had been corrected or deleted mysteriously reappeared in his final draft before there was time to amend it; leaving in unjustified slights and minor errors which were understood by me last year to have been expurgated.

"It was always obvious to me that this was never going to be a level playing field or, indeed, a completely impartial account because what the author was perfectly willing to write about me in earlier drafts he was unwilling to attribute to my adversary when, for example, it was conclusively demonstrated that an incident originally in his draft manuscript concerning something in a television interview applied to the other party even though it had been attributed to me. I provided video footage of the television programme in question, after which the reference to me was deleted. What was telling, however, is that the same material was not printed about my adversary who had behaved exactly as had been attributed by Paul Adams to me. That notwithstanding, I shudder to imagine what the outcome could have been had I not provided my assistance by reading his early drafts and offering significant amendments backed with evidence.

"Curiously enough, despite my having given Paul Adams accurate information on dates, such like and so forth, he still managed to get some of them wrong. There really is no excuse for this. In his book, for example, he gives the year of my ordination (he was actually referring to my episcopal consecration) as 1993. In fact, I was ordained/consecrated as a bishop in 1991. He also misrepresents a character in my novel Carmel (Gothic Press, 2000) in a way I find bewildering, ie he describes a principal character, Lord Mamuciam, as "a swashbuckling bishop" when he is nothing of the sort. Moreover, he offers the date April 25th as the night on which a company of publicity-hungry people engaged in a witchcraft stunt at Kirklees in Yorkshire. It was actually 20 April 2005.

"Had Paul Adams honoured his word on our agreement concerning the montage picture of press coverage I would not be having this conversation, but he did not; just as did not honour his word on what purported to be his final draft forwarded for my perusal, which it was not. The final draft reached me many months later when the book was already at the printers and could not possibly be amended. 

"Written in Blood (The History Press, 2014) could have been so much better if care had been taken with the essential facts; a less sloppy attitude had been adopted toward detail where the Highgate and Kirklees material is concerned; and absolute impartiality meted out to those named in connection with the Highgate Cemetery goings-on. The book, however, is thankfully not malicious."

Bishop Seán Manchester

Introduction to the Vampirologist (Written in Blood)

"The discovery and casting out of vampires and vampire-like 'entities' since the end of the great European epidemics of bloodletting over 250 years ago has traditionally become the province of the religious exorcist and in recent times the most high-profile figure in this aspect in Britain has been Nottinghamshire-born Seán Manchester, an author, musician, lecturer and broadcaster, who over the past three decades has established a reputation as 'the most famous vampire hunter of the twentieth century.' ... Like Montague Summers, for whose studies and writings he has shown a clear affinity, Manchester, a former portrait photographer, took holy orders. ... [He is] founder of the privately run Vampire Research Society, a sub-group within the equally obscure British Occult Society, whose Presidency he claimed for over twenty years until its dissolution in 1988." 

- Paul Adams (Written in Blood, The History Press, 2014, page 41).