It will come therefore as no surprise that many vampire romances are centred around a vampire hunter.
When most people think 'vampire hunter' or 'vampireologist' they'll think Abraham Van Helsing, who originally hails from Bram Stoker's, Dracula (but has been re-incarnated countless times in other media). They might think 'Anita Blake' from Laurell K. Hamilton's series. They might think kick ass, gun's blazing, go-get-em types... But you would be quite wrong.
As you are no doubt aware, many things in the paranormal genre have a factual base. So it is with the vampire hunter, but the historical vampire hunters were a far cry from to the vampire hunter we envision in film and literature today...
Allow me to introduce you to the wild and wacky world of Montague Summers (1880 - 1947).
He was also known as Alphonsus Joseph-Mary Augustus Montague Summers .
Inspired by Augustin Calmet's 18th Century studies of vampires (a two-volume behemoth tome Treaty on the Apparitions of spirits and Vampires, or ghosts of Hungary, Moravia, & c., published in 1751) Summers wrote several fascinating, and exhaustive texts relating to witches, vampires and werewolves.
~ The History of Witchcraft and Demonology (1926)
He was also the author of the first English translation of the 15th Century witch hunting manual the Malleus Maleficarum (which promoted the inhumane treatment of women suspected of witchery.)
It isn't really necessary to state it, but I will anyway, Montague Summer's was an ardent believer in the subject he studied. He was a known eccentric amongst his peers. He was a self professed 'witch hunter and vampireologist'. He believed most fervently that the belief in the existence of witches was an essential part of the Catholic doctrine.
Suffice to say, Montague Summer's career in the church is as strange as it is controversial. He initially studied Theology with the intent of becoming a priest in the Church of England, and was ordained a deacon. This career was short-lived as rumours abounded about his interest in Satanism, the occult, and his rather unsavoury interest in inappropriate relations with teenage boys.
Not one to let things like that stop him, he converted to Catholicism in 1909, and shortly after began to pass himself off as a Catholic priest - though it appears he was never actually ordained. Some suggest he was not ordained because of his suspected involvement in the Order of Chaeronea...
For those of you unaware, the Order of Chaeronea was a secret society for the cultivation of a homosexual, moral, ethical, cultural and spiritual ethos. It was founded by George Cecil Ives in 1897, who believed that homosexuals would never be accepted by society, and therefore created the Order as a means of developing a secret community for like minded individuals.
Still, not deterred Summers by his lack of official ordination, he began to dress as a priest in clerical robes. Yet he proceeded to carry a cane, on which the image of a swan Zeus raping Leda was a prominent feature...eccentric indeed.
Despite being a 'witch hunter', it does not appear that Summers actually went out to hunt witches or indeed, vampires. No, his hunting was much more in the literary sense.
He spent his time researching and studying the paranormal phenomena and some suggest he even tried it.
"Despite his cherubic demeanour and affability some people found him sinister, a view he delighted in encouraging. It was always hard to tell how much Summers was putting on a show when in company, particularly in his early life, but he does appear to have been driven by demons, not least of them being those arising from having homosexual tendencies in an intolerant age. And although in everyday life he was kind and considerate, when engaged in academic debate he was furiously intolerant. There were also rumours that in his youth Summers had dabbled in black magic. If true, the only effect seems to have been to turn him completely against such meddling later. He may have been fascinated, even obsessed by witches, vampires and the like but the tone of his writings is consistently hostile towards them." Reference: Unicorngarden
Much of Montague Summers life however, remains a mystery as his correspondences and diaries have been lost in time. He died of a heart attack in 1948. Two years after his death, Summers’ longstanding friend, Hector Stuart-Forbes, joined him in the then unmarked plot in Richmond UK.
Despite the scandals, the eccentricity, the astounding lack of actual 'hunting'; Montegue Summers remains the author of some of the most famous and detailed accounts of vampirism written to date.
So when you next pick up that book about vampire hunters, witch hunters or the like, spare a thought for the real and bizarre vampireologists, who spent their lives researching the lore on which some of our favourite movies and novels are based.
Enjoy your week.