The werewolf, a man (or more rarely a woman) capable of changing shape into that of a wolf, is a classic figure of nightmare and horror. Unlike Mary Shelley's Frankenstein or Bram Stoker's Dracula, the classic statements of the artificial monster and the vampire, the werewolf does not trace its imaginative origins to a single literary source, although it does appear in a number of nineteenth- and twentieth-century novels. Unlike the vampire, the werewolf has its early origins in the witch culture of medieval and early modern Europe, where accusations of being a werewolf, and of harming people while in a changed shape, were an occasional component of witchcraft accusations in France, the Netherlands and parts of Germany. Taken up by folklorists in the nineteenth century, the werewolf moved centre stage in twentieth century, with numerous films following The Wolf Man of 1941. With support in Hollywood, and a small part in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the werewolf's continuing hold on the popular imagination seems assured. In The Werewolf Willem de Blecourt traces the werewolf's history from its origins to the present.
Willem de Blecourt studied Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam. He has written extensively on magical and alternative practices in European culture.