Vamping the Children: The “Bloofer Lady”, the “London Minotaur” and Child-Victimization in Late Nineteenth-Century England
The child-victim—of both sexual and physical abuse—became an increasingly prominent figure in late nineteenth-century public discourse in England. It began, to some degree, with increased interest in regulating the family life and children of the poorer classes. In Dracula, Lucy Westenra's sexual menace to the children may be read both as a threat of sexual abuse and as a threat of sexual recruitment, since the bite of the vampire also has the quality of contagion or conversion—that is, turns the victim into a vampire. Admittedly, Lucy’s victims are considerably younger than the majority of girls discussed in the “Maiden Tribute” series, and include both boys and girls. Dissimulation, impersonation, and imposture all play a crucial role in Stead’s “Maiden Tribute” campaign, which similarly foregrounds the role of a multiplicity of sinister women who serve a small number of wealthy men, among them the person described by Stead as the infamous “London Minotaur”, for whom the virgins were supposedly procured.