Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Vampire Legend Endures; Bram Stoker, the Author of Dracula, Died 100 Years Ago This Month. the Popularity of His Legendary Work Endures, Inspiring a Multitude of Books and Films about Blood-Sucking Vampires. Thanks to the Twilight Series and True Blood, the Genre Has Never Been So Popular. MIKE KELLY Looks at the History of the Book Whose Roots Are Firmly Based in the North

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Vampire Legend Endures; Bram Stoker, the Author of Dracula, Died 100 Years Ago This Month. the Popularity of His Legendary Work Endures, Inspiring a Multitude of Books and Films about Blood-Sucking Vampires. Thanks to the Twilight Series and True Blood, the Genre Has Never Been So Popular. MIKE KELLY Looks at the History of the Book Whose Roots Are Firmly Based in the North

Article excerpt

Byline: MIKE KELLY

THE legend of the Vampire, the mythical being who feeds off the blood of the living, has been recorded in many cultures.

Some believe its folk history may go back as far as prehistoric times.

However the term 'vampire' was not popularised until the early 18th century after an influx of vampire superstition into Western Europe from areas where such legends were frequent, like the Balkans and Eastern

Europe.

Local variants were also known by different names, such as vrykolakas in Greece and strigoi in Romania.

This increased level of vampire superstition in Europe led to mass hysteria and in some cases resulted in corpses actually being staked and people being accused of vampirism.

While even folkloric vampires of the Balkans and Eastern Europe had a wide range of appearance ranging from nearly human to bloated rotting corpses, it was the success of John Polidori's 1819 novella, The Vampyre, that established the archetype of charismatic and sophisticated vampire. It was arguably the most influential vampire work of the early 19th century, inspiring such works as Varney the Vampire. The Vampyre was itself based on Lord Byron's unfinished story, Fragment of a Novel, also known as The Burial: A Fragment, published in 1819.

However, it was Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula that is remembered as the quintessential vampire novel and took the whole saga to a different level. Cultural historian Dr Gail-Nina Anderson of Northumbria University said: "While he doesn't come up with the concept of the vampire, he puts it in a form which makes it very readable, something that can happen here and now.

"He spent around a decade researching the book before writing it. It was truly a labour of love for him." During his research, Irish-born Stoker visited Whitby in 1890, staying in a house on the West Cliff, reportedly trying to decide if it would be suitable for a family holiday.

By all accounts, he was quite smitten with the atmosphere of the town: the red roofs, Whitby Abbey, the church with its tombstones and even the bats flying around the many churches.

It was here that Stoker came up with the name 'Dracula' for his book.

Contrary to popular belief, Stoker did not base his character on Prince Vlad 'the Impaler' II of Romania (at the time called Wallachia) and at first his vampire protagonist was to be named Count Wampyr.

Then, during his research at Whitby library, he came across William Wilkinson's An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia. In this book were brief passages about "Voivode Dracula" who crossed the Danube to fight the Turks and helped to drive them out of Wallachia, but was betrayed to them by his brother. What intrigued Stoker was a footnote that in Romanian, Dracula meant Devil. Liking the name for that reason, Stoker changed the name of his vampire from Wampyr to Dracula.

The novel's story is told in epistolary format, as a series of letters, diary entries, ships' log entries and so forth. The main writers of these items are also the novel's protagonists. The story is occasionally supplemented with newspaper clippings that relate events not directly witnessed by the story's characters. In short Jonathan Harker, a young English solicitor travels to Castle Dracula in Transylvania in order to finalise the purchase of Carfax, the Count's house near the lunatic asylum in Purfleet, Essex. Harker is imprisoned in the castle while Dracula sets off for England, his entourage held in a consignment of wooden boxes filled with earth from the family graveyard. Under cover of a storm, the count arrives at Whitby after killing the crew of the ship carrying him. He inflicts his powers on the voluptuous and flirtatious Lucy Westenra, friend of Harker's fiance, Mina Murray. Lucy's three suitors, Arthur Holmwood, Dr Seward and Quincey Morris, try desperately to protect her but she is turned into one of the undead, a vampire. …

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