True villains never really die and none are quite as infamous as Count Dracula. Originally published 118 years ago today, way back in the decidedly spookier year of 1897, Bram Stoker's iconic novel pretty much invented the vampire genre. Without it who knows where we'd be? We certainly wouldn't have Twilight that's for sure. Here's 15 great facts about the original Prince of Darkness...
Despite Stoker's long descriptive paragraphs about the place and that fact that it has since becoming synonymous with the vampire genre, Bram Stoker never actually visited Transylvania.
Bram Stoker’s original title for the novel was The Undead.
Count Dracula himself is of Hungarian descent and apparently led his troops against the Turks in the 15th Century.
The original Dracula wasn’t the clean cut chap that we’re used to watching on the big screen. In Stoker’s own words: “His eyebrows were very massive, almost meeting over the nose, and with bushy hair that seemed to curl in its own profusion. The mouth, so far as I could see it under the heavy moustache, was fixed and rather cruel looking, with peculiarly sharp, white teeth…”
Dracula doesn’t have a first name and is known simply as Dracula. Dracula means ‘devil’ in the Wallachian language, in Romanian it’s similar to Dracul which means ‘Dragon.’
Count Dracula’s original name was Count Wampyr.
Dracula became a vampire after making a pact with the devil according to hints left by Van Helsing when he discusses his origin. “The Draculas… were a great and noble race, though now and again were scions who were held by their coevals to have had dealings with the Evil One. They learned his secrets in the Scholomance, among the mountains over Lake Hermanstadt, where the devil claims the tenth scholar as his due…”.
The first film depiction of Dracula (although unauthorised) was Nosferatu, which was released in 1922, twenty five years after the novels original release.
Vampires can only sleep on sacred earth so when Dracula travels to London he’s forced to pack with him a cargo of 50 wooden boxes, all filled with mouldy earth – replicas of his grave in Transylvania, one grave for each of the properties he intends on buying in the city.
There have been over 200 Dracula film roles, 11 of which all starred Christopher Lee in the role of the Count.
One of Bram Stoker’s old clients, the actor Henry Irving, was the inspiration for many of Dracula’s mannerisms. Bram Stoker always hoped that Irving would play the Count in the stage version of the novel but it never happened.
The novel wasn’t an initial success and Stoker earned little money from it, one year before his death he was in fact so poor that he was forced to petition for a compassionate grant from the Royal Literary Fund. It wasn’t until the 1931 American movie staring Bela Lugosi that the popularity of the book began to grow, and has never been out of print since.
The English seaside town of Whitby is mentioned numerous times in the novel and was a popular summer holiday location for Bram Stoker and his family when he was growing up.
Throughout the book Dracula’s supernatural powers include: hypnosis, telepathic powers, shape-shifting, the ability to create ‘mists’ and the power to control animals like bats and wolves.
Despite most vampires in popular culture only being able to be killed via a stake through the heart, Dracula must first be decapitated and then impaled with a stake.