Fictional vampire in a book of that name by Irish author
Bram Stoker (1847–1912). The Count Dracula character has
become an archetype for scores of books, films, and plays on
the vampire theme since first appearing in Stoker’s version of
May 1897.
Draconites Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
Stoker’s character was supposedly based in part on the reallife
Prince Dracula (Vlad V) in fifteenth-century Wallachia, but
the historical original was reportedly a sadist rather than a
vampire. According to legend, during his rule one of his punishments
was to impale his victims on stakes and gloat over
their sufferings. Stoker wedded the image of the literary vampire
developed in the stories of John Polidori and Sheridan Le
Fanu with information about the medieval Romanian ruler.
Stoker possibly became aware of the real Dracula through
conversations with the Hungarian scholar Arminius Vambéry
and supplemented his stories with research in Whitby, Yorkshire,
and at the British Museum Library, London. There is
thus considerable authenticity in much of the background detail
of Stoker’s book, including vampire folklore and actual locations
in Transylvania (now Romania).
Dracula was first performed as a play on May 18, 1897, at the
Lyceum Theatre, London (where Stoker was manager to the
actor Henry Irving), but this first production was an adapted
reading for copyright purposes, lasting four hours.
In 1923 permission for a dramatization of Dracula was given
by Stoker’s widow to Irish actor Hamilton Deane, and this version
was first produced in June 1924 at the Grand Theatre,
Derby, opening in London at the Little Theatre, John Street,
Adelphi, February 14, 1924.
It is believed that the first screen versions were a Russian
and then a Hungarian silent film, but copies of neither have
survived. However, the 1922 German film, Nosferatu, oder Eine
Symphonie des Grauens (a slightly disguised Dracula made by the
famous silent film director F. W. Murnau), did survive in spite
of Florence Stoker’s attempt to squelch it. The role of the vampire
was played by Max Schreck and the film achieved a doomladen
atmosphere, chiefly through the photography of cameraman
Fritz Arno Wagner. After Florence Stoker’s successful
prosecution for infringement of copyright, the production
company went into bankruptcy, but some prints survived and
have been made available for public showings.
The Movies
The first official Dracula movie was made in Hollywood in
1930, directed by Tod Browning and starring Bela Lugosi in
the title role. Lugosi became the most famous Dracula, appearing
in many plays and films in this role. In 1972 a California
court upheld the copyright of the heirs of Bela Lugosi in his
own characterization of the part of Dracula. Over the years, the
Dracula vampire theme has proliferated in movies all over the
world, Christopher Lee and John Carradine playing the part
most often. Dracula, the novel, has been brought to the screen
more than a dozen times, and several hundred movies have featured
the main character. In 1992, film director Francis Ford
Coppola released his version of the classic entitled Bram Stroker’s
Dracula, with Gary Oldman in the title role supported by
Anthony Hopkins and Winona Ryder. The film won Academy
Awards for best costume design, makeup, sound effects, and
In March 1968 the magazine Fate published an interview
with Count Alexander Cepesi, who claimed to be a descendant
of Vlad Dracula. Cepesi was a Romanian, living in Istanbul
since 1947. He operated a blood bank and collected plasma for
Turkish hospitals.
The traditional tomb of Dracula is in a monastery at Snagov,
Romania. It was opened in 1931 but was found to contain only
animal bones. A second grave in the same church contained a
casket with a skeleton in a purple shroud embroidered with
gold. However, the Weird Museum in Hollywood, California,
exhibited what is claimed to be the authentic skeleton of Vlad
Dracula, believed to have been removed from Bucharest.
In Britain, the Dracula Society exists to promote the study
and appreciation of the work of Bram Stoker and Gothic
themes in literature, theater, and film. In the Republic of Ireland,
a Bram Stoker Society was formed with similar aims and
fraternal association with the British Dracula Society. In the
United States both the Count Dracula Fan Club and the Count
Dracula Society carry on the appreciation of Dracula and his
vampire cousins. Most recently, the Transylvanian Society of
Dracula, headquartered in Bucharest, has brought together a
worldwide network of Dracula enthusiasts.
The modern revival of interest in the undead vampire of
Bram Stoker’s famous novel has continued to grow through the
twentieth century but has increased since the 1972 publication
of a biography of the real Dracula by historians Raymond T.
McNally and Radu Florescu. In May 1977, during ceremonies
held in Bucharest to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Romanian
independence, President Nicolae Ceausescu solemnly
honored fifteenth-century warrior-prince Vlad Dracula (prototype
of Stoker’s thriller) by inclusion in the nation’s Hall of
Fame. Prince Vlad is a tourist attraction in Romania for hundreds
of foreign visitors who join the tours of sites related to
both Prince Vlad and the novel’s Transylvanian count. The real
Dracula, Vlad Tepes or ‘‘Vlad the Impaler,’’ killed his enemies
by impaling them on sharply pointed wooden stakes. This is an
inversion of the traditional method of setting a vampire to rest,
as told in Dracula.
Vlad the Impaler was captured by Turks in 1476, and after
decapitation his head was exhibited in Constantinople, on a
stake. His status as a national hero stems from his opposition
to the Turks and ‘‘love for the fatherland’’ as an authoritarian.
The centennial of the novel Dracula was celebrated in 1997
and Vlad Tepes is still a well-known historical figure to contemporary
audiences, while the literary Dracula has become an immediately
recognizable figure in popular culture. The image of
Dracula regularly appears on products from greeting cards to
mass media advertisements. Dracula books, comic books, movies,
jewelry, dramas, candy, and toys appeal to an ever increasing
Bisang, Robert Eighteen-Bisang. Dracula A Century of Editions,
Adaptations and Translations. Part One English Language
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Florescu, Radu & Raymond T. McNally. Dracula A Biography
of Vlad the Impaler 1391–1476. New York Hawthorn Books,
Glut, Donald. The Dracula Book. Metuchen, NJ Scarecrow
Press, 1975.
McNally, Raymond T. & Radu Florescu. In Search of Dracula
A True History of Dracula and Vampire Legends. New York New
York Graphic Society, 1972.
Melton, J. Gordon. The Vampire Book The Encyclopedia of the
Undead. Detroit Gale Research, 1994.
Miller, Elizabeth. Dracula Sense and Nonsense. Westcliff-onSea,
UK Desert Island Books, 1998.
———. Reflection on Dracula Ten Essays, White Rock, BC
Transylvanian Press, 1997.
Shepard, Leslie, and Albert Powers, eds. Dracula Celebrating
100 Years. Dublin, Ireland Mentor Press, 1997.
Summers, Montague. The Vampire His Kith and Kin. Reprint,
London Routledge, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1928. Reprint,
New Hyde Park, N.Y. University Books, 1960.
———. The Vampire in Europe. London Routledge, Kegan
Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1929. Reprint, New Hyde Park, N.Y.
University Books, 1966.
Wolf, Leonard. The Annotated Dracula. New York Clarkson
N. Potter, 1975.