Like most of the people around the world, I also got familiar with Dracula when I saw one of the many ‘Dracula’ movies as a child. As my love for books went deeper , the original novel ‘Dracula’ topped my ‘Books to Read’ list. I just finished this novel and it turned out to be the best Gothic novel I have ever read.
So all you Dracula-lovers out there, check out these lesser known facts about this horror epic which will make you love it even more…
1. Dracula is an 1897 Gothic horror novel by Irish author Bram Stoker, published by Archibald Constable and Company (UK).
2. Stoker was a business manager for the world-famous Lyceum Theater in London between 1879 and 1898 and he supplemented his income by writing a large number of sensational novels, his most famous being the vampire tale Dracula published on 26 May 1897.
3. Parts of the novel are set around the town of Whitby, where Stoker spent his summer holidays.
4. Contrary to the popular narration styles like the first person fantasy or the third person narration, the novel is narrated entirely through letters, newspaper clippings, diary entries, and ship logs.
5. Victorian readers enjoyed the novel as a good adventure story like many others, but it did not reach its iconic legendary status until later in the 20th century when film versions began to appear.
6. Before writing Dracula, Stoker spent seven years researching European folklore and stories of vampires, being most influenced by Emily Gerard’s 1885 essay, “Transylvania Superstitions”.
7. Despite being the most widely known vampire novel, Dracula was not the first. It was preceded and partly inspired by Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1871 “Carmilla”, about a lesbian vampire who preys on a lonely young woman, and by Varney the Vampire, a lengthy penny dreadful serial from the mid-Victorian period by James Malcolm Rymer.
8. The Lyceum Theatre, where Stoker worked between 1878 and 1898, was headed by the actor-manager Henry Irving, who was Stoker’s real-life inspiration for Dracula’s mannerisms and who Stoker hoped would play Dracula in a stage version but Irving never agreed to do a stage version.
9. One of Stoker’s original titles for Dracula was ‘The Dead Un-Dead’, and up until a few weeks before publication, the manuscript was titled simply ‘The Un-Dead.’
10. Stoker’s notes for Dracula show that the name of the count was originally “Count Wampyr”, but while doing his research, Stoker became intrigued by the name “Dracula”, after reading William Wilkinson’s book ‘Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia with Political Observations Relative to Them’ (London 1820), which he found in the Whitby Library, and consulted a number of times during visits to Whitby in the 1890s.
11. The name Dracula was the patronym of the descendants of Vlad II of Wallachia, who took the name “Dracul” after being invested in the Order of the Dragon in 1431. In the Romanian language, the word dracul can mean either “the dragon” or, especially in the present day, “the devil”.
12. The novel has been in the public domain in the United States since its original publication because Stoker failed to follow proper copyright procedure.
13. When it was first published, in 1897, Dracula was not an immediate bestseller, although reviewers were unstinting in their praise. The contemporary Daily Mail ranked Stoker’s powers above those of Mary Shelley and Edgar Allan Poe as well as Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights.
14. Some Victorian fans were ahead of the time, describing it as “the sensation of the season” and “the most blood-curdling novel of the paralysed century”.
15. In 1922, W. Murnau’s unauthorized film adaptation Nosferatu was released. The popularity of the novel increased considerably owing to the controversy caused when Stoker’s widow tried to have the film removed from public circulation due to copyright issues.
16. The novel did not make much money for Stoker. In fact, the last year of his life he was so poor that he had to petition for a compassionate grant from the Royal Literary Fund, and in 1913 his widow was forced to sell his notes and outlines of the novel at a Sotheby’s auction, where they were purchased for a little over 2 pounds.
17. Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote to Stoker in a letter, “I write to tell you how very much I have enjoyed reading Dracula. I think it is the very best story of diablerie which I have read for many years.”
18. The first American edition was published by Doubleday & McClurein New York in 1899.
19. The story of Dracula has been the basis for numerous films and plays. Stoker himself wrote the first theatrical adaptation, which was presented at the Lyceum Theatre under the title Dracula, or The Undead shortly before the novel’s publication and performed only once.
20. In 1914, two years after Stoker’s death, the short story “Dracula’s Guest” was posthumously published. According to most contemporary critics, it was the deleted first (or second) chapter from the original manuscript original publishers deemed it unnecessary to the overall story.
21. As of 2009, an estimated 217 films feature Dracula in a major role, a number second only to Sherlock Holmes (223 films).
22. DC Comics published a series of graphic novels titled ‘The Batman and Dracula Trilogy’ beginning with ‘Batman & Dracula: Red Rain’, published in 1991. The rest of the two sequels were ‘Batman: Bloodstorm’ and ‘Batman: Crimson Mist.’