Steve Ahlquist has been writing his Mythographical Meanderings over at ForcesofGeek.com for two years now. If you haven’t been reading his column, you’re missing out. To catch you up we’ll be posting excerpts from his best essays with links back to FOB where you can read the rest. This essay was originally published January 12, 2009.
Suppose that Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer was based somewhat on reality. This means, at a minimum, that undead blood-sucking vampires exist, as does a person known as the Slayer. “In every generation there is a Chosen One. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer.” We learn from the series that each Slayer is also given a Watcher, a member of a shadowy cabal that trains, guides and protects the Chosen One. In the series, we are introduced to Buffy Summers, who is, presumably, our present day Slayer.
Over the course of the series (and the related media of novels, videogames and comics) we are given glimpses and tales of other Slayers from history, including the First Slayer, named Sineya, from ancient Africa. Occasionally we learn that actual, historical people were in fact Slayers, such as Joan of Arc in France and Virginia Dare of Roanoke Virginia. (For a full list of Slayers culled from all available media, click here.)
In literature, we can identify some other potential Slayers. Mina Harker, who helped battle Dracula, is one such candidate. Anita Blake, though she lives in a very different world than ours, might be based on a real world Slayer, the same as Victoria Gardella and Damali Richards.
To this growing list of exceptional women I would like to add English author and pioneer of the gothic novel Ann Radcliffe, who lived from 1764 to her death 1823 (it is said she died of pneumonia, but we know better now, don’t we?)