James Malcolm Rymer

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James Malcolm Rymer (1814–1884) was a British nineteenth-century writer of penny dreadfuls, and is the co-author with Thomas Peckett Prest of both Varney the Vampire (1847) and The String of Pearls (1847), in which the notorious villain Sweeney Todd makes his literary debut.[1]

Information about Rymer is sketchy. He was of Scottish descent, though born in Clerkenwell, London on 1 February 1814.[1] In the London Directory for 1841 he is listed as a civil engineer, living at 42 Burton Street, and the British Museum catalogue mentions him in 1842 as editing the Queen's Magazine. Between 1842 and 1867 he wrote up to 115 popular novels for the English bookseller and publisher Edward Lloyd, including the best-sellers Ada the Betrayed, Varney the Vampyre and The String of Pearls. Rymer's novels appeared in England under his own name as well as anagrammatic pseudonyms such as Malcolm J. Errym and Malcolm J. Merry.

He died on 11 August 1884 and is buried in Kensal Green cemetery, west London.[1]


  • Ada the Betrayed; or, The Murder at the Old Smithy (1845)[2]
  • The String of Pearls: A Romance (1846)
  • Varney the Vampyre; or the Feast of Blood (1847)
  • The Widow Mortimer (1849)
  • Love and Mystery; or, Married and Single: A Romance (1849)
  • Mazeppa; or, The Wild Horse of the Ukraine: A Romance (1850)
  • The Dark Woman (1861)
  • Edith the Captive; or, The Robbers of Epping Forest (1861)
  • The Wronged Wife: or The Heart of Hate (1870)
  • The Black Monk; or, The Secret of the Grey Turret
  • The First False Step; or The Path to Crime
  • The Knightriders
  • Rankley Grange
  • The Marquis of Dalewood

Fictional appearances[edit]

James Malcolm Rymer features as the narrator of The Springheel Saga, Series Two: The Legend of Springheel'd Jack, by The Wireless Theatre Company. Set in 1845, Rymer is played by John Holden-White.[3][4]


  1. ^ a b c Collins, Dick (2010). "Introduction". Varney, the Vampyre. Ware: Wordsworth.
  2. ^ Sutherland, John (2007). Bestsellers: a very short introduction. Oxford University Press. p. 82. ISBN 978-0-19-921489-1.
  3. ^ "The Springheel Saga, Series Two; The Legend Of Springheel'd Jack". Yes. Wireless Theatre Company. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
  4. ^ "'The Legend of Springheel'd Jack' - Episode One: 'The Terror of London' A Review". Yes. Morgue Of Intrigue. Retrieved 24 December 2013.

External links[edit]