I Am Legend (1954) by Richard Matheson

I Am Legend (1954) is a vampire novel by RICHARD MATHESON, considered a classic in contemporary vampire literature and in the horror genre. I Am Legend is the first contemporary novel to present vampires as the victims of illness and not as creatures of evil, and it influenced many vampire novels in subsequent years.

I Am Legend was the third novel of prolific author Matheson and originally was published in the science fiction genre. Subsequently, it has been called one of the greatest horror novels and one of the most influential vampire novels.

The hero is Robert Neville, who becomes the last human on an earth that is taken over by vampires. Vampirism is a bacteria-caused plague spread through blood infection. The plague has decimated the population of the world. Those who aren’t killed by it becomes vampires. Cities are in ruins as the plague of vampirism infects more and more people. Neville seems to be immune to the plague, but this soon becomes more of a curse than a blessing, as he becomes the Outsider. He spends his nights barricaded against the vampires, who are after his blood.

During the day, he becomes a brutal Vampire HUNTER, killing vampires one by one in gory fashion. He must deal with his own loneliness, and also the increasingly sophisticated society being created by the vampires who now dominate the planet and are creating a new world, mutating into a new species.

Alone with his hoard of frozen food and his stock of classical music, Neville has no creature comfort from either man or beast. He coaxes in a stray dog, but it soon dies. Ruth, a widow who appears, turns out to be in the employ of the vampires. Neville also spends time searching libraries and archives for scientific information on plagues, bacteria, and the blood, hoping he will find something that will lead to an antidote against the vampire plague. It is a more and more a futile battle, as impossible as trying to stop the tide.

As the shift takes place from human to vampire, the novel considers the question, what is “normal”? When vampires prevail, are they the normal ones and Neville the alien who should be destroyed? What if vampirism is a normal course of evolution? I Am Legend inspired horror novelist Stephen King and horror film director George Romero.

It was filmed in 1964 as The Last Man on Earth starring Vincent Price, and in 1971 as The Omega Man starring Charleton Heston. In the latter film, the vampirism element is nearly absent, but has been replaced by a mutating plague.


Matheson, Richard. I Am Legend. New York: TOR Books, 1997.

[author image=”https://occult-world.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/roseMary-guiley.jpg” ]Rosemary Guiley works full-time in the paranormal and metaphysical fields. She has written more than 50 books, including single-volume encyclopedias, on a variety of topics, A-Z, angels to zombies and everything in between. Source Amazon.[/author]
Taken from : The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters

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