Vampires have been in the news a fair bit recently, mainly thanks to the release on 9 July in the UK of Twilight Saga: Eclipse, the third motion picture adapted from the Twilight series of vampire-based fantasy romance novels by the American writer Stephenie Meyer, and published between 2005 and 2008.
The series has sold over 100 million copies worldwide. In Britain, according to a YouGov poll conducted online among a sample of 2,469 between 11 and 13 May this year, 12% of all adults claim to have read at least parts of the Twilight books. They appeal most to the 18-34s (19%) and women (16%).
However, Meyer’s novels are dwarfed in popularity by J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, which 38% of the population seem to have read. Of those who have read both series, five times as many people prefer Harry Potter to Twilight. For the full results of this poll, see
A second YouGov poll, on 29-30 June with a sample of 2,138, asked a somewhat tighter question about the readership of the Twilight novels. On this occasion, 9% of adults said that they had read at least one of the four titles, rising to 23% of the 18-24s, 13% of the 25-39s and 12% of women.
Many more, 21%, reported that they had seen either or both of the first two Twilight films, released in 2008 and 2009, including 45% of the 18-24s and 32% of the 25-39s. 8% of all respondents (but 24% of the 18-24s) said that they would see the third film at the cinema, 14% intended to wait until it is released on DVD and 66% indicated they would not watch the film at all.
Of those who had read at least one of the books and watched at least one of the films, 55% preferred the books to the films, 15% the films to the books, and 28% liked both equally. Among the same sub-sample, asked to choose between the characters in the films, 44% wanted to be a vampire, 16% a werewolf and 34% neither.
More generally, 53% in this second YouGov survey picked a favourite vampire-based film or television programme, including seven-tenths of the under-40s, with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Lost Boys and Blade very popular, in addition to Twilight. For the full list, see
Do these findings tell us anything about alternative religion, especially among the young whose rejection of much traditional religion is well documented? Are they really indicative of the numbers who believe in vampires in the dictionary sense of ghosts or reanimated bodies who leave their graves at night and suck the blood of sleeping persons? Or is this more about a craving for exciting fantasy far removed from the monotony and anxieties of everyday life?