On this day, May 27, 1897, Dracula, by Bram Stoker, was first published.
Here are five facts about Bram Stoker’s Dracula that you probably didn’t know:
5. Bram Stoker, who was Irish, originally titled his book The Dead Un-Dead, which he then later changed to The Undead. Stoker’s original manuscript was 541 pages and, until fairly recently, was believed to have been lost. But … “it was found in a barn in northwestern Pennsylvania in the early 1980s. It included the typed manuscript with many corrections, and handwritten on the title page was ‘THE UN-DEAD.’ As Robert Latham notes, ‘the most famous horror novel ever published, its title changed at the last minute.'”
4. Bram Stoker’s Dracula was at least partially inspired by one Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla (1871), about a lesbian vampire who preys upon a lonely young woman (Death, where is thy sting?). There was also Varney the Vampire, a serialized story from the mid-Victorian period by James Malcolm Rymer. The first aristocratic vampire was created in 1819, by John Polidori in The Vampyre. But prior to writing Dracula, Bram Stoker met Ármin Vámbéry — a Hungarian writer and traveler, whose dark, misty stories of the Carpathian mountains exerted a huge influence upon Stoker.
3. Count Dracula dipped his bread in blood. There’s a 15th Century manuscript, with which Bram Stoker was presumably familiar, called, The Story of the Bloodthirsty Madman Called Dracula of Wallachia, by one Michel Beheim. This particular madman dipped pieces of his bread into buckets of blood, which he’d drained from the people he murdered right there at his dinner table. He would invite them to his mansion for a great big feast and then, with the help of his private army, impale them there at the table: bodies on the stake, dripping, he’d casually finish the rest of his own dinner, all the while wiping his bread in the pooling blood of the victims.
2. “Dracula” means “Son of the Dragon,” which actually translates to something like “Son of the Devil.” Bram Stoker did not invent this name. Vlad III — also known as Vlad the Impaler (who, incidentally, is rooted in some historical fact) — was a Transylvanian, the son of a man who belonged to a secret society called Order of the Dragon. Vlad III had spent years in a Turkish prison. When he was released, he learned that his father had been betrayed by Hungarian troops and buried alive. Vlad III was avenging his father’s death — specifically by inviting to dinner some 500 of the noblemen involved in betraying his father. Vlad III murdered between 40,000 and 100,000 people.
1. He was funny — or, at any rate, he himself thought so. He did possess a rather morbid sense of humor. He enjoyed skinning his victims, boiling them alive, and once or twice noted that these victims “twitched like frogs.”
“What great gracefulness they exhibit,” he once also remarked.