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Food for the Dead
On the Trail of New England’s Vampires
Michael E. Bell

2011 • 390 pp. 16 illus. 1 map. 2 tables. 6 x 9"
New England History / Folklore

$22.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-7170-0
$17.99 Ebook, 978-0-8195-7171-7

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

A major contribution to the study of New England folk beliefs. . . . [H]is tales, stripped of Dracula’s Eastern European trappings, give a deeper and more... [continued in Reviews below]”—Michael Kenney, Boston Globe

Startling true stories behind New England’s vampire legends—back in print with a new preface by the author

For nineteenth-century New Englanders, “vampires” lurked behind tuberculosis. To try to rid their houses and communities from the scourge of the wasting disease, families sometimes relied on folk practices, including exhuming and consuming the bodies of the deceased. Author and folklorist Michael E. Bell spent twenty years pursuing stories of the vampire in New England. While writers like H. P. Lovecraft, Henry David Thoreau, and Amy Lowell drew on portions of these stories in their writings, Bell brings the actual practices to light for the first time. He shows that the belief in vampires was widespread, and, for some families, lasted well into the twentieth century. With humor, insight, and sympathy, he uncovers story upon story of dying men, women, and children who believed they were food for the dead. This Wesleyan paperback edition includes an extensive preface by the author unveiling some of the new cases he’s learned about since Food for the Dead was first published in 2001.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“A major contribution to the study of New England folk beliefs. . . . [H]is tales, stripped of Dracula’s Eastern European trappings, give a deeper and more somber meaning to the overgrown fields and their enclosing stone fences, to the derelict farmhouses and their sagging barns, of rural New England.”Michael Kenney, Boston Globe

“Elegantly spun. . . . Filled with ghostly tales, glowing corpses, rearranged bones, visits to hidden graveyards, and references to . . . Robert Frost, H. P. Lovecraft, and Amy Lowell. . . . Bell reveals the powerful roots of folk ideas, the importance of community and prophetic dreams, the pull of legend and blood. . . . This is a marvelous book.”Sam Coale, Providence Journal

MICHAEL E. BELL was the consulting folklorist at the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission in Providence. He has served as a scholar or consultant on numerous projects for the media, particularly those concerned with folklore, folk art, oral history, and humanities programs for young adults. He splits his time between Pawtuxet Village, Rhode Island and McKinney, Texas.

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 12:59:08 -0500