One of the most enduring figures in the literary paranormal world of vampires and unworldly creatures is Dracula.
Written in 1897 by the Irish author Bram Stoker, Dracula is, alongside Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, one of the most famous and most respected gothic horror novels of all time.
Constructed in the form of a series of letters, diary entries, and ship’s log entries, Dracula is narrated by the story’s lead character, the vampire, Count Dracula. Stoker’s novel is largely set in Transylvania (a southern region of modern day Romania) and England during the 1890s.
Dracula recounts the story of the Count’s attempt to relocate from his home in Transylvania to England (mostly around the Whitby area, where Stoker spent many holidays), and his quest to find new blood and spread the undead curse of the vampires. The novel centres around how his adversary, Professor Abraham Van Helsing, tries to stop the Count’s ungodly plans.
Bram Stoker was a business manager for the Lyceum Theatre in London between 1879 and 1898. During that time he wrote a great many ‘horrific’ novels to increase his income, including Dracula. It is speculated that Stoker based the character of the Count on his friend, the Shakespearean actor Sir Henry Irving.
Although Stoker did not invent the vampire, he defined its modern form, and his novel has led to a large number of theatrical, film and television interpretations. Stoker himself wrote the first theatrical adaptation, which was presented at the Lyceum Theatre under the title Dracula, or The Undead.
Dracula films remain ever popular, especially during the period of Halloween. In 2009 it was estimated that there were approximately 217 films that featured Dracula in a major role. These include many that have had their storylines expanded to appeal to the modern audience, including Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Brides of Dracula, and Dracula’s Daughter.
118 years have passed since Dracula was written, and there is no denying that the iconic figure is as popular now as he was in the late Victorian era – especially at this spooky time of year, when sales of Dracula based DVD’s and books traditionally double.
Dr Kathryn Bates is a graduate of archaeology and history. She has excavated across the world as an archaeologist, and tutored medieval history at Leicester University. She joined the administrative team at Oxford Open Learning twelve years ago. Alongside her distance learning work, Dr Bates is a bestselling novelist, and an itinerant creative writing tutor for primary school children.