As we approach Halloween each year, the usual images of ghosts, witches, bats and jack-o-lanterns appear along with the ubiquitous image of the vampire.  The most famous king of the vampires is, of course, Count Dracula, made famous by the novel Dracula written by Bram Stoker in 1897.

Since its publication, the story has spawned untold spinoffs, movies, plays and merchandise. These range from the classic 1931 movie with Bella Lugosi to the modern breakfast cereal Count Chocula.

Presented here is a very broad overview of the Dracula phenomenon and some websites, books and movies related to it:

One of the best literary analyses I have read on the Dracula novel is Clive Leatherdale’s Dracula: the Novel and the Legend: a Study of BramStoker’s Gothic Masterpiece.

We know that Stoker made copious notes on the lore of vampires, primarily from Eastern Europe. Some academics have claimed that the 15th century Romanian prince Vlad the Impaler was the model for Stoker’s Dracula, while other scholars have denied this.

So who was Vlad the Impaler? He was known as Vlad III, Vlad Tepes (pronounced Tsepesh) or Vlad Drakula (which derives from the Slavic word for dragon).  You can learn more about him and how he got his reputation from websites like this one:   http://www.donlinke.com/drakula/vlad.htm

Vlad the Impaler’s castle still exists and is known today as Bran Castle, a tourist attraction in present day Romania.

Most people probably know more about the Dracula legend through the untold number of movies that have been made about him.

The first one was not the classic Bela Lugosi film, but 1922’s silent, German film called Nosferatu, where the vampire was known as Count Orlok instead of Dracula. They have spanned the years from then all the way up to the 21st century.  My personal favorites, however, are the Hammer films with Christopher Lee and the 1979 German film Nosferatu, starring Klaus Kinski.

So whose portrayal of Dracula is your favorite? Take a look at this top ten list, it may help you decide.

Here are some recommended books and films from your library, though by no means a complete list.

Bram Stoker's initial notes and outlines for his landmark horror novel Dracula were auctioned at Sotheby's in London in 1913 and eventually made their way to the Rosenbach Museum and Library, where they are housed today. This comprehensive work reproduces the handwritten notes both in facsimile and in annotated transcription. It also includes Stoker's typewritten research notes.

A village trembles in fear; a priest forsakes his vows in the service of evil; young
beauties fall victim to a mysterious seducer ; and each night brings a new threat of death, all because Dracula has risen from the grave.

By Barbara Belford

Dracula (1931 classic)
A vampire terrorizes the countryside in his search for human blood.

By J. Gordon Melton

By Raymond T. McNally

- Gary Calderone


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