Carmilla is an 1872 Gothic novella by Irish author Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu and one of the early works of vampire fiction, predating Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897) by 26 years. First published as a serial in The Dark Blue (1871–72), the story is narrated by a young woman preyed upon by a female vampire named Carmilla, later revealed to be Mircalla, Countess Karnstein (Carmilla is an anagram of Mircalla). The character is a prototypical example of the lesbian vampire, expressing romantic desires toward the protagonist, and is depicted as a trait of antagonism in line with the contemporary views of homosexuality. The story is often anthologized and has been adapted many times in film and other media.
Le Fanu presents the story as part of the casebook of Dr. Hesselius, whose departures from medical orthodoxy rank him as the first occult detective in literature.
Laura, the teenage protagonist, narrates, beginning with her childhood in a "picturesque and solitary" castle amid an extensive forest in Styria, where she lives with her father, a wealthy English widower retired from service to the Austrian Empire. When she was six, Laura had a vision of a very beautiful visitor in her bedchamber. She later claims to have been punctured in her breast, although no wound was found.
Twelve years later, Laura and her father are admiring the sunset in front of the castle when her father tells her of a letter from his friend, General Spielsdorf. The General was supposed to bring his niece, Bertha Rheinfeldt, to visit the two, but the niece suddenly died under mysterious circumstances. The General ambiguously concludes that he will discuss the circumstances in detail when they meet later.
Famous works of the author Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu: Carmilla, Green Tea, Guy Deverell: Volume 1, Guy Deverell: Volume 2, Mr. Justice Harbottle, The Familiar, The Haunted Baronet, The House by the Church Yard, The Mysterious Lodger, The Room in the Dragon Volant, The Watcher, Uncle Silas, Wylder's Hand.