The Bloody Countess: Valentine Penrose, Erzsébet Báthory, and Sanguineous Surrealism: A Live, Online Lecture with Dr. Sabina Stent, Dr. Vanessa Sinclair and Carl Abrahamsson

The Bloody Countess: Valentine Penrose, Erzsébet Báthory, and Sanguineous Surrealism: A Live, Online Lecture with Dr. Sabina Stent, Dr. Vanessa Sinclair and Carl Abrahamsson


Date: Sunday, February 19
Time: 2 pm EST

PLEASE NOTE: This lecture will be recorded and available for free for our Patreon members at $5/month and above. Become a Member HERE.

Ticketholders: A Zoom invite is sent out at 12:30 pm EST on the day of the event to the email used at checkout. Please check your spam folder and if not received, email A temporary streaming link will be emailed after the event concludes.

In 1962, Valentine Penrose (née Boué), the French-born Surrealist poetess, author, and collagist, wrote her seminal historical novel/biography Erzsébet Báthory la Comtesse sanglante. Translated into English in 2002, the book is more widely known as The Bloody Countess: Atrocities of Erzsebet Bathory.

Báthory was a sixteenth-century Hungarian noblewoman and serial killer who believed the key to everlasting youth and beauty was to bathe in the blood of attractive young women. Due to her notorious bloodthirst, she is sometimes referred to as the female Vlad the Impaler or compared to the infamous child murderer Gilles de Rais. In his book The Tears of Eros, Georges Bataille writes, ‘De Sade did not know of Erszébet Báthory’s existence, but doubtless her atrocities would have roused his most vicious excitement.’

Writing the book allowed Penrose to utilise and exercise her interest and knowledge of the occult. Penrose, who possessed a deep and unwavering interest in the arcane, ‘liked to think of herself as a witch,’ while references to mysticism and alchemy infused the lyrical verses of her poetry. 

This talk will look at Penrose, Bathory’s bloodlust via The Bloody Countess and thematic associations of blood in art by other women Surrealists.  

Dr. Sabina Stent is a freelance writer and speaker specialising in Women Surrealists and visual culture. She is interested in how feminists-surrealists explored the body, the cinematic, the uncanny, and Surrealism in Los Angeles. Sabina’s bylines include Magnum PhotosCrime Reads, and AnOther Magazine, and she writes a Substack newsletter called Love Letters During a Nightmare

The Psychoanalysis, Art & the Occult series of events, curated by Dr. Vanessa Sinclair and Carl Abrahamsson, is dedicated to exploring the intersections and integration of psychoanalytic theory, the creative arts, occult practices, and folk magic traditions. By inviting psychoanalysts, philosophers, artists, writers, and occult practitioners from a variety of theoretical orientations and worldviews to discuss their work, personal experiences, and areas of research interest with one another, dialogue is opened up between practitioners in fields of study that traditionally rarely engage with one another though often operate in similar and complementary ways. Join them at Patreon!