Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Rymer, James Malcolm

(1814-1884) Scottish civil engineer and writer of penny dreadfuls, mostly anon, though sometimes as Malcolm J Errym or Malcolm J Merry. He was exceedingly prolific, and a true tally of his output will probably never be known. His work is often confused with that of his fellow contributor to Edward Lloyd's publishing house, Thomas Pecket Prest (1810-1859), but research seems to support JMR's authorship of the notorious Varney the Vampire, or The Feast of Blood (serially 1845-1847; 1847). It is possible that both Prest and JMR worked on the story during its 109 weekly parts. A long, episodic and puerile work, it was the most extensive Vampire work before Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897). There is minimal plot. Sir Francis Varney has become a vampire (probably by a Pact with the Devil) and proceeds to terrorize and suck the blood from weekly victims. JMR's works are all in the Gothic form (> Gothic Fantasy), all sensational, but most with rationalized supernaturalism (> Rationalized Fantasy). Of his attributed works, The Black Monk (1844), also once ascribed to Prest, is an historical Gothic involving a formulaic haunted abbey in the time of Richard I. The String of Pearls (1846-1848 The People's Periodical; vt Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street 1878), which has sometimes been ascribed to JMR, is believed to be by Prest. [MA]

James Malcolm Rymer

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This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.