Monday, March 16, 2009

Corrections, Revisions, Omissions! Oh My!

A sincere seeker-of-truth named BIGGLESANDSOPHIE8 posted the following request ("Books about the Highgate Vampire") on the British Occult Society forum:
Does anyone know the exact number of books written about the Highgate Vampire to date?
To which DennisCrawford1 (Dennis Crawford) wrote:
The exact number of books written about the Highgate Vampire to date is really just one.
That is, the 1991 edition of Sean Manchester's The Highgate Vampire.

Crawford goes on to mention
Seán Manchester's significant contribution to Peter Underwood's anthology The Vampire's Bedside Companion and a regurgitation in the third person of Seán Manchester's contribution for a chapter in a later book titled Exorcism!
Yet, strangely, he forgets to raise another work of Manchester's that deals with the same case: the 1985 first edition of The Highgate Vampire.

Why the omission?

Perhaps renowned British horror author, Ramsey Campbell, has the answer.

His anthology, Ramsey Campbell, Probably (PS Publishing, 2002) contains an article called "The Strange Case of Sean Manchester" (pp. 139-150). It was originally written for Shock Xpress in 1991.

In it, he reviews a copy of the 1991 edition against the 1985 original, and notes the following changes. And a warning to readers of this blog - here be spoilers:
  • omission of an account in which Manchester first learned of vampires from a nanny who used to bathe him as a child (140)
  • omission of a quoted article from a February 1970 issue of the Hamstead and Highgate Express (142)
  • omission of images of "Luisa", replaced with that of an "actress" and a portrait (142)
  • omission of a bulk of "photographic evidence" (142-143)
  • Inclusion of a picture of Rosemary Ellen Guiley, who interviewed him for her 1991 book, Vampires Among Us (143)
  • Luisa saying "I must find the old place" instead of "must go to the old house". She also appears to be "significantly less loquacious" (145)
  • Mould-covered sandwiches become mould-covered maggots (146)
  • Conversation with Arthur culled back, words slightly altered (146)
  • Attempts by Arthur to use a camera, after the vampire has been staked, change from turning away, to taking "several frames" (146)
  • Luisa's sister tells him Luisa died of a "blood disorder" rather than a "form of leukemia" (147)
  • Manchester's dreams of Luisa ferociously masturbating herself with a stake are reduced to "swaying to and fro" and "making a hissing sound" (147)
  • Omission of Manchester quoting Rudyard Kipling's "If" to himself, after losing local council election, which he ran for, under an assumed name (148)
  • Addition of an account by where Manchester is bitten by Luisa, after mistaking her for her sister (148)
  • Luisa harasses him in a misty form with two burning eyes (148)
  • When changing into robes for an act of necromancy, Manchester feels like "a forlorn lover about to encounter the object of his passion" instead of "a school boy on his way to meet his first real date" (148)
I heartily recommend Campbell's article, which also makes other notations on the Case.

You might also like to read some notations I made on the differences between the editions, ("Changes to the New Edition of The Highgate Vampire" thread) byway of Rosemary Ellen Guiley's Vampires Among Us (New York: Pocket Books, 1991).

A counter-case was made by official reps of the VRS, by which I provided my own responses here.

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