Sunday, 5 October 2014


A few words about the famous portrait of Lusia and the subject herself ...

This oil on canvas portrait of Lusia appears, complete with its frame, on page 186 of the second edition of The Highgate Vampire. In the same book, its author recalls how "I sketched her face from a variety of angles. Seventeen years later I would finish the oil painting from memory." 

“Among the many people who contacted me,” he recounts in the first complete account of the story first published in 1985, “was the sister of a beautiful twenty-two-year-old woman, whom I shall call Lusia.” A photographic model, and, later, various actresses portrayed Lusia in representational depictions of the eerie events that occurred in and around Highgate almost half a century ago. Below is the real Lusia and below her is the model, a close friend of the author, who was the first to portray Lusia on film.

This is Lusia whom the author was drawn to from the first moment he set eyes on her.

And this is the 1960s' photographic model who sometimes accompanied the author to various events, helping him with photography, as well as appearing in pictures herself. Unsurprisingly, she occasionally found herself entangled in incidents he was investigating or participating in. Her name is Jacqueline. It has been falsely claimed by the man convicted of black magic crimes at Highgate Cemetery in the 1970s (for which he was sentenced to a prison term of four years and eight months) that Jacqueline and Lusia are one and the same. Not so. Unfortunately, this malicious falsehood identifying an innocent third party has been exploited by one or two internet trolls who are obviously not troubled that their sole source is a man with a criminal record who has waged a hate campaign against the author of The Highgate Vampire from the moment he became aware of him in 1970. 

Final mention of the mysterious Lusia should be left with the man who knew the girl in the portrait  ...

"My initial discovery of her was one of sheer delight tinged with a terrible sadness which grew stronger until it finally eclipsed her. It would be within the sombre tones of an apt piece of music that she became enshrouded. I wrote: 'Her cascading flaxen tresses caught the dull illumination of the moonlight in their pale reflection. Somewhere, in the background, I could hear the dying pulses of Strauss’ solemn orchestral work, Metamorphosen. It haunts me to this day.' Lusia was touched by what lies beyond earthly confines, and became part of the nightmare of hideous visions and visitations associated with Highgate Cemetery at that time. I glimpsed an indistinct figure toward the end, a figure swathed in a white cerement, her face the colour of marble save for her mouth, which seemed full and wanton. This was not the Lusia I had first known. It was something else. A shade of something that had been sucked dry of life. She nevertheless lives in the hearts of those who knew her and hopefully on the canvas from all those years ago. Her portrait in oils has been immortalised by a history in which she played a significant part. My style altered even during the years I added paint to canvas when creating this portrait and is today significantly removed from that period."

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