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The casual student of the Eighteen Nineties might easily come to believe that Count Eric Stenbock is an urban legend. Contemporary references are slight, published letter collections of his friends contain no references to him, two of his poetry books were never deposited at the British Library and unlike Oscar Wilde there is no popular movement devoted to his memory. The only biography, by John Adlard, is a limited edition that went out of print in the 1960's.

But, amongst a few devotees of weird fiction, he is an underground cult figure. His books are re-published by small esoteric presses, Jeremy Reed includes a chapter about him in his classic study of artistic outsidersAngels, Divas and Blacklisted Heroes and his grave in Brighton is kept free of weeds by a local queer literary group.

For most readers it is The True Story of a Vampire they encounter first. It is the only anthologised story and gives an interesting twist on the vampire mythos. It is clear that unlike modern, and many victorian writers, his influences are folk tales and Northern European culture rather than Stoker. His style is far more European than other English writers of the period and resembles French or German writers of the time rather than English ones. This is probably due to him being multilingual (though he preferred to write in German) and well travelled.

Few readers however have read his poetry and for some that may be a blessing. His published poems are morbid, gauche and give the impression of being badly translated from some other language.

The two following pages give a short list of the titles of his published work and a chance to read, and hear, a few examples.


Short Stories