Carmilla is a story about a young lady called Laura and how her life changed after she met a young lady called Carmilla. The story occurs in Styria, where Laura and her father have a very secluded life. They were going to have the visit of Mademoiselle Rheinfeldt, the niece of General Spielsdorf, but she died under strange circumstances. One evening, while Laura, her father and their service were out enjoying the moonlight, a carriage had an accident near where they were, and Laura's father promised to the mother of the young lady of the carriage to take care of her while she was away for some business. Laura is delighted with the appearance of the lady. Later, when both girls could talk for a while, both recognise each other from a dream they had twelve years before. Later we learn about Carmilla's strange behaviour...
In a glass darkly has many different stories but they share a link between them: the character of Doctor Hesselius, a detective of the occult with deductive powers. He writes all the stories as letters that he sends to Doctor Van Loo. In this compilation we can read stories as “Green Tea”, a story about a man and an evil monkey which some people think that this tale was an inspiration for Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mister Hyde, and “Carmilla" a vampire story which is an influence on Bram Stoker's Dracula.
Was born in Dublin, in a Huguenot family. He studied law at Trinity College, but he abandoned it for journalism. He worked as journalist and editor. His fiction writing career flourishes after his wife's death, when he became a recluse and devoted himself to writing, specially Gothic fiction but he also wrote some poetry. He died shorty after he wrote Willing to die.
Some of his works and their publication dates are: Madame Crowl's ghost and other tales of Mystery (1823), The House by the Churchyard (1863), Uncle Silas (1864), Guy Deverell (1865), The Tenants of Malory (1867), In a glass darkly (1872) and Willing to die (1872).
Illustration by Michael Fitzgerald for Le Fanu's story Carmilla in The Dark Blue (January 1872).
For more information:
Beatriz Villacañas Palomo, Literatura irlandesa, Editorial Síntesis, Madrid, 2007.