Count Dracula Begins His Feast - 5/26/1897

History |


Get your sacks of garlic out and ready. For it was today on May 26, 1897, that the first copies of the classic novel Dracula hit the bookshelves of London. Bram Stoker, an Irish writer and author of the book, was an invalid in childhood. But as he grew up he defied the odds against him, and became a football (soccer) star at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. Upon graduation, Stoker got a job in the civil service realm at Dublin Castle. It is there he worked for the next ten years. During this time he was writing drama reviews for the Dublin Mail as a side job. 

Amid this era, Stoker met the famed actor Sir Henry Irving, who hired him as a manager. For the next three decades, he found himself writing Irving’s innumerable correspondence for him while also accompanying him on tours in the United States. It was over these years, Stoker began to write a number of horror stories for magazines. Finally, in 1890, he published his first novel, The Snake’s Pass. Throughout his life, Stoker would go on to write and publish 17 novels in total, but his most influential piece would be published in 1897, Dracula.

The novel was written in the form of journals and diaries of its main characters. Dracula is the tale of a vampire who travels from Transylvania (a region in Eastern Europe now in Romania) to Yorkshire, England. His goal is to prey on the blood of the innocent so he may in turn stay alive. Originally Stoker name the vampire “Count Wampyr”, but he read the name Dracula in a book written by retired diplomat William Wilkinson. Dracula eventually earned literary fame and became known as a classical masterpiece of Victorian-era Gothic literature. 

The release of the novel saw moderate success, even when Stoker died in 1912, his obituaries mentioned nothing of Dracula. But in the 1920s, the novel was adapted for Broadway and book sales began to skyrocket. The Dracula craze went into full force in 1931, when the Universal blockbuster film directed by Tod Browning and starring famed actor Bela Lugosi, hit the silver screen. After this burst of fame the productions kept rolling with vampire-themed movies, literature, and TV shows. But it’s Lugosi’s Hungarian accent that has remained to quintessential Count Dracula. 

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