In his 1839 novel Hyperion: A Romance, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow has a character quote “a Chinese proverb” that reads “a single conversation across the table with a wise man is better than ten years mere study of books.” I suppose that likewise applies to a blog. For in the ten years that I have been writing Vault of Thoughts, I wonder if anything I have offered to the world by way of written ruminations approaches the quality of the best of conversations.
For what they’re worth, here are my top ten posts. They are taken from a blog that I am proud to say has logged a little over 300,000 total views during its decade on the web.
1. VAMPIRES & VICTIMS: WOMEN OF HAMMER HORROR
Be they vampires, victims or Victor Frankenstein’s most ambitious creation, actresses that appeared in movies from Britain’s Hammer Studios were unlike any other women in the history of genre films. So many others must feel this way as it continues to top the list of my blog posts ever since it was published in May of 2018. It even attracted an artist from Germany named Kolja Senteur to seek me out to write the English introduction to his illustrated book Heroines of Hammer (click here for cover image, kindly provided by the artist). Click here to read post.
2. GENIUS, GIN AND GLUCOSE: THE DEATH OF E.A. POE
“Constitutionally sensitive,” Edgar Allan Poe arguably suffered from type 2 diabetes. You can see it in his face. I argue as much in this post from early in the blog’s history (April, 2012). And while I am not the first to posit this theory, I may have been among the first to show the progression of the condition in photos. Click here to read post.
3. PRE-CODE HOLLYWOOD: MURDER, PROSTITUTION & WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE GOD
With sex, violence, and a man who dared defy God, motion pictures of the nineteen-twenties and early nineteen-thirties were not the glory days of wholesome family values. In this post, I examine a number of films that were scandalous in their day, and look at the history of what is now known as “pre-code” cinema. Click here to read post.
4. TATTIE BOGIES, KUEBIKO AND FEATHERTOP: THE SCARECROW OF FOLKLORE AND FICTION
Known as bootzamon to German settlers and Tattie Bogies to the Scots, scarecrows, culturally if not etymologically, have long been tied to the supernatural. This post looks at some scarecrows in fiction, and quotes artist Win Jones, whose painting served as the feature image (it is one of the only feature images on my blog to be kept as color to maintain its integrity). Click here to read post.
5. UNMASKING THE PHANTOM: ROMANTICIZING THE FACE OF HORROR
Why do fans of Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel, The Phantom of the Opera — and its many adaptations from stage to screen — romanticize the sinister? Apparently, more than a few people were interested in my answer in this post that ended up as 5th most popular on my blog over the past ten years. Click here to read post.
6. MURDEROUS FROGS AND DEAD BIRDS: TWO ODD VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS CARDS
I tend to always write a post at Christmas. And this entry from 2016 was one of the most popular. Check out these Victorian Christmas cards that just SCREAM Merry Christmas! Click here to read post.
7. VAMPING IT UP: RUDYARD KIPLING, THEDA BARA & THE 20TH CENTURY FEMME FATALE
One of my personal favorites that made it to the top ten taps into something quite visceral: the femme fatale — who will always have a place in popular culture. As does the vamp. In this post, I trace a bit of the history of both. Click here to read post.
8. BAD THINGS COME IN THREES: THE WEIRD SISTERS OF DRACULA
Call them sisters, daughter, wives or brides, there are three vampire women in Bram Stoker’s DRACULA. Is the number significant? I think so. Click here to read post.
9. SINISTER CLAUS: A TRADITION OF TERROR AT CHRISTMAS
The second of my Christmas-themed posts to make the top ten, this post explores how the Santa Claus of popular imagination can be downright scary. Click here to read post.
10. BRIDES AND DAUGHTERS: WOMEN OF UNIVERSAL MONSTER MOVIES
A companion piece to the post dedicated to the women of Hammer horror, this tenth most popular entry acknowledges that while Karloff and Lugosi made for Universal’s better known monsters, the studio created some equally memorable female characters. Click here to read post.
There you have it. Ten years, and the ten most popular posts from The Vault of Thoughts. If you’ve been with me since the beginning, you have my sincere thanks. And if you are new to this blog, start with one of the posts mentioned here. They account for 37% of my site’s traffic. It is my hope that you will find at least one you like.