The Lair of the White Worm

Last updated

The Lair of the White Worm
Lair of white worm 1st ed cover.jpg
Cover of the first edition
Author Bram Stoker
Illustrator Pamela Colman Smith
CountryUnited Kingdom
Genre Horror novel
Set in Derbyshire, 1860
PublisherWilliam Rider and Son Ltd (London: W. Rider) [1]
Publication date
1911
Media typePrint (hardcover)
Pages324
823.912
LC Class PZ3.S8743 La PR6037.T617 [1]
Text The Lair of the White Worm at Wikisource

The Lair of the White Worm is a horror novel by the Irish writer Bram Stoker. It was first published by Rider and Son of London in 1911 [1] [2] – the year before Stoker's death – with colour illustrations by Pamela Colman Smith. The story is based on the legend of the Lambton Worm. It has also been issued as The Garden of Evil.

Contents

The book is widely considered one of the worst books ever written. [3] [4] [5] [6]

Plot summary

The central character of the book is Adam Salton, an Australian at the outset living there, who in 1860 is contacted by his elderly great-uncle, Richard Salton, a landed gentleman of Lesser Hill, Derbyshire, England, [7] who has no other family and wants to establish a relationship with the only other living member of the Salton family. Although Adam has already made his own fortune in Australia, he enthusiastically agrees to meet his uncle, and on his arrival by ship at Southampton the two men quickly become good friends. His great-uncle then reveals that he wishes to make Adam the heir to his estate, Lesser Hill. Adam travels there and quickly finds himself at the center of mysterious events, with Sir Nathaniel de Salis, a friend of Richard Salton's, as his guide.

Edgar Caswall, the new heir to a neighboring estate, Castra Regis or Royal Camp, is in the process of making a mesmeric assault on a local girl, Lilla Watford. Meanwhile, Arabella March, of Diana's Grove, is running a game of her own, perhaps angling to become Mrs. Edgar Caswall. He is a slightly pathological eccentric and has inherited Franz Mesmer's chest, which he keeps in the Castra Regis Tower. Caswall seeks to make use of mesmerism, a precursor to hypnotism, and, obsessed with Lilla, attempts to break her using mesmeric powers. However, with the help of Lilla's half-Burmese cousin, Mimi Watford, he is thwarted time and again.

Caswall has a giant kite built in the shape of a hawk to scare away pigeons that have attacked his fields and destroyed his crops. For lack of anything better to do, he obsessively watches the kite and begins to believe that it has a mind of its own and that he himself is a god.

Adam Salton finds black snakes on his great uncle's property and buys a mongoose to hunt them down. He then discovers a child who has been bitten on the neck and who almost dies as a result. Adam learns that another child has already been killed by a snake bite and that animals have also been killed mysteriously throughout the county.

Caswall's Black African servant, Oolanga, a man obsessed with death and torture, prowls around the Castra Regis estate, enjoying the carnage left by the White Worm. Adam's mongoose attacks Arabella, who shoots it to death. Adam buys more mongooses and keeps them locked in trunks when not using them to hunt. Arabella tears another mongoose apart with her hands. Oolanga takes a liking to Arabella, perhaps sensing something violent in her, and makes advances. Arabella scorns Oolanga and is deeply insulted that he would dare to approach her. In an attempt to win her over, Oolanga steals one of Adam's trunks (which he believes is filled with treasure, but is actually just another mongoose), and Adam follows Oolanga. Arabella lures Oolanga to a deep well in her house, then in rage and disgust murders him by dragging him down into the deep pit tunneled through a bed of white china clay. Adam witnesses the murder, but has no evidence of it apart from his own word. Arabella writes him a letter the next day, with the previous night's events twisted, claiming her complete innocence. Adam and Sir Nathaniel begin to suspect that Arabella is guilty of other crimes and that she wants to murder Mimi Watford.

Adam and Sir Nathaniel then plot to stop Arabella by whatever means necessary. Sir Nathaniel is a Van Helsing-type character who wants to hunt down Arabella, who he believes, with increasing conviction, is the White Worm of legend.

The White Worm is a large snake-like creature dwelling deep under Arabella's house at Diana's Grove. It has green glowing eyes and feeds on whatever living creatures it can find to eat. Sir Nathaniel believes the Worm is descended from dragons, who traded their physical power for cunning. The Worm ascends from its pit and seeks to attack Adam and Mimi Watford in the forest of Diana's Grove.

Adam is able to foil Arabella's multiple attempts to murder Mimi, and Arabella offers to sell Diana's Grove, which Adam buys with the aim of destroying the White Worm. He plans to fill the pit with sand and set dynamite to kill the Worm while it is underground.

Caswall's last visit to Lilla ends in her death. In the final chapters, Mimi Watford confronts Caswall who has finally succumbed to madness. He lures her onto the roof of Castra Regis House as a storm approaches and shows off his kite, despite the thunderheads building in the sky. Arabella, who had been stalking Mimi, watches from nearby and steals some of the wire holding the kite, apparently unspooling it all the way back to her house. When Mimi discovers Caswall has locked her onto the roof she shoots off the lock with a gun Adam gave her for her protection and flees home. Adam convinces her to go back outside with him, and they witness the following events: a massive thunderstorm breaks over Castra Regis House, a lightning bolt is grounded by the kite and demolishes the Castra Regis tower; it then travels through the wire Arabella had run to Diana's Grove and ignites Adam's dynamite, which pulverizes the White Worm and destroys the house and Arabella at the same time. After this, Adam and Mimi Watford are married.

Reception

Les Daniels noted that while The Lair of the White Worm had "potential", it was undermined by the "clumsy style" of the writing. [5] The horror critic R. S. Hadji placed The Lair of the White Worm at number twelve in his list of the worst horror novels ever written. [4] Historian of the horror genre H. P. Lovecraft, in his essay "Supernatural Horror in Literature", stated that Stoker "utterly ruins a magnificent idea by a development almost infantile." [3]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bram Stoker</span> Irish novelist and short story writer (1847–1912)

Abraham Stoker was an Irish author who is celebrated for his 1897 Gothic horror novel Dracula. During his lifetime, he was better known as the personal assistant of actor Sir Henry Irving and business manager of the Lyceum Theatre, which Irving owned. In his early years, Stoker worked as a theatre critic for an Irish newspaper, and wrote stories as well as commentaries. He also enjoyed travelling, particularly to Cruden Bay where he set two of his novels. During another visit to the English coastal town of Whitby, Stoker drew inspiration for writing Dracula. He died on 20 April 1912 due to locomotor ataxia and was cremated in north London. Since his death, his magnum opus Dracula has become one of the most well-known works in English literature, and the novel has been adapted for numerous films, short stories, and plays.

<i>Dracula</i> 1897 novel by Bram Stoker

Dracula is a novel by Bram Stoker, published in 1897. An epistolary novel, the narrative is related through letters, diary entries, and newspaper articles. It has no single protagonist, but opens with solicitor Jonathan Harker taking a business trip to stay at the castle of a Transylvanian nobleman, Count Dracula. Harker escapes the castle after discovering that Dracula is a vampire, and the Count moves to England and plagues the seaside town of Whitby. A small group, led by Abraham Van Helsing, hunt Dracula and, in the end, kill him.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vampire literature</span> Speculative literary genre

Vampire literature covers the spectrum of literary work concerned principally with the subject of vampires. The literary vampire first appeared in 18th-century poetry, before becoming one of the stock figures of gothic fiction with the publication of Polidori's The Vampyre (1819), which was inspired by the life and legend of Lord Byron. Later influential works include the penny dreadful Varney the Vampire (1847); Sheridan Le Fanu's tale of a lesbian vampire, Carmilla (1872), and the most well known: Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897). Some authors created a more "sympathetic vampire", with Varney being the first, and Anne Rice's 1976 novel Interview with the Vampire as a more recent example.

<i>Bram Stokers Dracula</i> (1992 film) 1992 film by Francis Ford Coppola

Bram Stoker's Dracula is a 1992 American Gothic horror film directed and produced by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the 1897 novel Dracula by Bram Stoker. It stars Gary Oldman as Count Dracula, Winona Ryder as Mina Harker, Anthony Hopkins as Professor Abraham Van Helsing, and Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Abraham Van Helsing</span> Fictional character created by Bram Stoker

Professor Abraham Van Helsing, a fictional character from the 1897 gothic horror novel Dracula, is an aged Dutch polymath doctor with a wide range of interests and accomplishments, partly attested by the string of letters that follows his name: "MD, D.Ph., D.Litt., etc.", indicating a wealth of experience, education and expertise. He is a Doctor, Professor, Lawyer, Philosopher, Scientist and Metaphysic. The character is best known through many adaptations of the story as a vampire slayer, monster hunter and the archnemesis of Count Dracula, and the prototypical and the archetypical parapsychologist in subsequent works of paranormal fiction.

<i>Dracula</i> (1958 film) 1958 horror film directed by Terence Fisher

Dracula is a 1958 British gothic horror film directed by Terence Fisher and written by Jimmy Sangster based on Bram Stoker's 1897 novel of the same name. The first in the series of Hammer Horror films starring Christopher Lee as Count Dracula, the film also features Peter Cushing as Doctor Van Helsing, along with Michael Gough, Melissa Stribling, Carol Marsh, and John Van Eyssen. In the United States, the film was retitled Horror of Dracula to avoid confusion with the U.S. original by Universal Pictures, 1931's Dracula.

<i>Dracula</i> (1931 English-language film) 1931 film

Dracula is a 1931 American pre-Code supernatural horror film directed and co-produced by Tod Browning from a screenplay written by Garrett Fort and starring Bela Lugosi in the titular role. It is based on the 1924 stage play Dracula by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston, which in turn is adapted from the 1897 novel Dracula by Bram Stoker. Lugosi portrays Count Dracula, a vampire who emigrates from Transylvania to England and preys upon the blood of living victims, including a young man's fiancée.

<i>Draculas Daughter</i> 1936 film by Lambert Hillyer

Dracula's Daughter is a 1936 American vampire horror film produced by Universal Pictures as a sequel to the 1931 film Dracula. Directed by Lambert Hillyer from a screenplay by Garrett Fort, the film stars Otto Kruger, Gloria Holden in the title role, and Marguerite Churchill, and features, as the only cast member to return from the original, Edward Van Sloan – although his character's name was altered from "Van Helsing" to "Von Helsing".

<i>Dracula: Prince of Darkness</i> 1966 British film

Dracula: Prince of Darkness is a 1966 British supernatural horror film directed by Terence Fisher. The film was produced by Hammer Film Productions, and is the third entry in Hammer's Dracula series, as well as the second to feature Christopher Lee as Count Dracula, the titular vampire. It also stars Andrew Keir, Francis Matthews, and Barbara Shelley.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jonathan Harker</span> Fictional character created by Bram Stoker

Jonathan Harker is a fictional character and one of the main protagonists of Bram Stoker's 1897 Gothic horror novel Dracula. His journey to Transylvania and encounter with the vampire Count Dracula and his Brides at Castle Dracula constitutes the dramatic opening scenes in the novel and most of the film adaptations. Stoker appropriated the surname from his friend Joseph Cunningham Harker (1855–1920), a set designer at the Lyceum Theatre and father of actor William Gordon Harker (1885–1967) as well as great-grandfather of actress Polly Adams, whose actress-daughters Susannah Harker and Caroline Harker adopted the Harker surname for their stage names.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dracula (Marvel Comics)</span> Marvel Comics fictional character

Dracula is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. He is based on the vampire Count Dracula from the novel of the same name by author Bram Stoker. After the initial run of the series The Tomb of Dracula, the character has been depicted primarily as an antagonist to superheroes in the Marvel Universe.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Arthur Holmwood</span> Fictional character created by Bram Stoker

Arthur "Art" Holmwood is a fictional character in Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula.

<i>The Lair of the White Worm</i> (film) 1988 film

The Lair of the White Worm is a 1988 supernatural horror comedy film written and directed by Ken Russell, and starring Amanda Donohoe, Hugh Grant, Catherine Oxenberg, and Peter Capaldi. Loosely based on the 1911 Bram Stoker novel of the same name, it follows the residents in and around a rural English manor that are tormented by an ancient priestess after the skull of a serpent she worships is unearthed by an archaeologist.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Count Dracula</span> Title character of Bram Stokers 1897 gothic horror novel Dracula

Count Dracula is the title character of Bram Stoker's 1897 gothic horror novel Dracula. He is considered to be both the prototypical and the archetypal vampire in subsequent works of fiction. Aspects of the character are believed by some to have been inspired by the 15th-century Wallachian Prince Vlad the Impaler, who was also known as Dracula, and by Sir Henry Irving, an actor for whom Stoker was a personal assistant.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Count Dracula in popular culture</span> Appearances of Count Dracula in popular culture

The character of Count Dracula from the 1897 novel Dracula by Bram Stoker, has remained popular over the years, and many forms of media have adopted the character in various forms. In their book Dracula in Visual Media, authors John Edgar Browning and Caroline Joan S. Picart declared that no other horror character or vampire has been emulated more times than Count Dracula. Most variations of Dracula across film, comics, television, documentaries predominantly explore Dracula as he was portrayed in film with only a few more closely adapting Stoker's original narrative. These including borrowing the look of Count Dracula in both the Universal's series of Dracula and Hammer's series of Dracula, including include the characters clothing, mannerisms, physical features hair style and his motivations such as wanting to be a nearby home away from Europe.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Basilisk</span> Legendary reptile in European mythology

In European bestiaries and legends, a basilisk is a legendary reptile reputed to be a serpent king, who causes death to those who look into its eyes. According to the Naturalis Historia of Pliny the Elder, the basilisk of Cyrene is a small snake, "being not more than twelve inches in length", that is so venomous, it leaves a wide trail of deadly venom in its wake, and its gaze is likewise lethal.

<i>Bram Stokers Draculas Curse</i> 2006 American film

Bram Stoker's Dracula's Curse is a 2006 horror film by The Asylum, written and directed by Leigh Scott. Despite featuring Bram Stoker's name in the title, the film is not directly based on any of his writings or a mockbuster to the 1992 film Bram Stoker's Dracula, but shares similarities to films such as Blade: Trinity, Dracula 2000, Underworld: Evolution and Van Helsing. The film also shares some similarities with the 1971 Hammer horror film Countess Dracula, which also features a Dracula-esque femme fatale in the lead role.

<i>Dracula the Un-dead</i> 2009 novel by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt

Dracula the Un-dead is a 2009 sequel to Bram Stoker's classic 1897 novel Dracula. The book was written by Bram Stoker's great-grandnephew Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt. Previously, Holt had been a direct-to-DVD horror screenwriter, and Stoker a track and field coach.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Castle Dracula</span>

Castle Dracula is the fictitious Transylvanian residence of Count Dracula, the vampire antagonist in Bram Stoker's 1897 horror novel Dracula. The first and the last events of the plot take place there. The inaccessible stronghold, which initially symbolizes the vampire's power, finally becomes the scene of his extermination.

<i>Powers of Darkness</i> Title of a Dracula variant serialized in the Swedish newspaper Dagen

Powers of Darkness is an anonymous 1899 Swedish version of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula, serialised in the newspaper Dagen and credited only to Bram Stoker and the still-unidentified "A—e."

References

  1. 1 2 3 "The lair of the white worm" (1st ed). LC Online Catalog. Library of Congress (loc.gov). Retrieved 2016-09-16.
  2. Bibliography of Stoker's novels at Bram Stoker Online. [ full citation needed ]
  3. 1 2 H. P. Lovecraft, "Supernatural Horror in Literature". Reprinted in Stephen Jones & Dave Carson (eds.) The World's Greatest Horror Stories. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 2004. ISBN   9780760754665. p. 45
  4. 1 2 R. S. Hadji, "13 Worst Stinkers of the Weird", in Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine , July–August 1983, TZ Publications, Inc., pp. 86-87.
      groups.google.com
  5. 1 2 Les Daniels, Living in Fear: a history of horror in the mass media, New York: Scribner, 1975, ISBN   0684143429, p. 63.
  6. "Stoker, Bram" by Brian Stableford in David Pringle, St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost and Gothic Writers. London: St. James Press, 1998, ISBN   1558622063, (pp. 574).
  7. Authors and writings of the East Midlands. [ full citation needed ]
  8. McNally, Raymond T.; Florescu, Radu (1994). In Search of Dracula: The History of Dracula and Vampires (Revised ed.). Houghton Mifflin Co. p.  223. ISBN   9780395657836.
  9. Dracula and The Lair of the White Worm, W. Foulsham & Co. Ltd., 1986, p. 8.
  10. "Die Schwarze Sonne - Lausch". Lausch - Phantastische Hörspiele (in German). 2006.
  11. Dracula: Curse of the Vampire (2021, Snowbooks, ISBN   978-1913525002)