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Bram Stoker

Gothic novel by Bram Stoker, published in 1897. The most popular literary work derived from vampire legends, Dracula became the basis for an entire genre of literature and film.

1904 Edition Count Dracula, an "undead" villian from Transylvania, uses his supernatureal powers to lure and prey upon innocent victims from whom he gains the blood on which he lives. The novel is written chiefly in the form of journals kept by the principal characters--Jonathan Harker, who contacts the vampire in his Transylvanian castle; Harker's fiancee (later his wife), Mina, adored by the Count; the well-meaning Dr. Seward; Abraham Van Helsing, who is the first to realize the Count's true nature; and Lucy Westenra, a victim who herself becomes a vampire. Van Helsing and friends destroy Dracula in the end, but only after they drive a stake through Lucy's heart to save her soul.

Dracula combined central European folktales of the nosferatu, or undead, with historical accounts of the 15th-century prince Vlad the Impaler, who allegedly speared 1000,000 victims and was given the epithet Dracula (a derivitive of Romanian drac, or "devil"). Critics have seen the story's vampirism as a lurid Victorian literary sublimation of sexuality.

1965 Edition The novel was adapted for the theater and the play appeared in London's west end as adapted by Hamilton Dean and John Balderson. Hamilton Deane himself played the blood-thirsty Count on stage for the first time. Deane's Dracula was a villain, a black-clad, audience-hissing villain. A long black cape with a high collar was first introduced as part of Dracula's wardrobe for the play to facilitate an illusion where Dracula vanishes as the vampire Hunters (Seward, Harker, Van Helsing) close in, and forever became associated with the character.

Dracula was a smash hit in London and was eventually brought over the Atlantic to New York in 1927. On Broadway, Hungarian Bela Lugosi also played Dracula as a monster, but his good looks and suave valentino-esque foreign swarthy voice made women swoon. The audience (and indeed mostly the women) made Dracula into the romantic figure that he became over the years.

The script for Universal's 1931 version of Dracula is based on the American stage version by John L. Balderston. Universal originally bought the rights as a vehicle for Lon Chaney. When Chaney died it was inherited by Lugosi, and it may well be that this change, with Lugosi so familiar with the play after a two-year run, inhibited director Tod Browning from rethinking the material.

--Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature, 1995

A selection of Dracula related fiction.
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A selection of Dracula related non-fiction.

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