Dracula is an 1897 Gothic horror novel by Irish author Bram Stoker.
Famous for introducing the character of the vampire Count Dracula, the novel tells the story of Dracula's attempt to relocate from Transylvania to England, and the battle between Dracula and a small group of men and women led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing.
Dracula has been assigned to many literary genres including vampire literature, horror fiction, the gothic novel and invasion literature. The novel touches on themes such as the role of women in Victorian culture, sexual conventions, immigration, colonialism, and post-colonialism. Although Stoker did not invent the vampire, he defined its modern form, and the novel has spawned numerous theatrical, film and television interpretations.
The novel 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.
The tale begins with Jonathan Harker, a newly qualified English solicitor, journeying by train and carriage from England to Count Dracula's crumbling, remote castle (situated in the Carpathian Mountains on the border of Transylvania, Bukovina, and Moldavia). The purpose of his mission is to provide legal support to Dracula for a real estate transaction overseen by Harker's employer, Peter Hawkins, of Exeter in England. At first enticed by Dracula's gracious manner, Harker soon discovers that he has become a prisoner in the castle. He also begins to see disquieting facets of Dracula's nocturnal life. One night while searching for a way out of the castle, and against Dracula's strict admonition not to venture outside his room at night, Harker falls under the spell of three wanton female vampires, "the Sisters". He is saved at the last second by the Count, because he wants to keep Harker alive just long enough to obtain needed legal advice and teachings about England and London (Dracula's planned travel destination so as to be among the "teeming millions"). Harker barely escapes from the castle with his life.
Not long afterward, a Russian ship, the Demeter, having weighed anchor at Varna, runs aground on the shores of Whitby, England, during a fierce tempest. All of the crew are missing and presumed dead, and only one body is found, that of the captain tied to the ship's helm. The captain's log is recovered and tells of strange events that had taken place during the ship's journey. These events led to the gradual disappearance of the entire crew apparently owing to a malevolent presence on board the ill-fated ship. An animal described as a large dog is seen on the ship leaping ashore. The ship's cargo is described as silver sand and boxes of "mould", or earth, from Transylvania.
Soon Dracula is tracking Harker's devoted fiancée, Wilhelmina "Mina" Murray, and her friend, Lucy Westenra. Lucy receives three marriage proposals in one day, from Dr. John Seward; Quincey Morris; and the Hon. Arthur Holmwood (later Lord Godalming). Lucy accepts Holmwood's proposal while turning down Seward and Morris, but all remain friends. Dracula has a notable encounter with Seward's patient Renfield, an insane man who means to consume insects, spiders, birds, and other creatures — in ascending order of size — in order to absorb their "life force". Renfield acts as a motion sensor, detecting Dracula's proximity and supplying clues accordingly.
Lucy begins to waste away suspiciously. All of her suitors fret, and Seward calls in his old teacher, Professor Abraham Van Helsing from Amsterdam. Van Helsing immediately determines the cause of Lucy's condition but refuses to disclose it, knowing that Seward's faith in him will be shaken if he starts to speak of vampires. Van Helsing tries multiple blood transfusions, but they are clearly losing ground. On a night when Van Helsing must return to Amsterdam (and his message to Seward asking him to watch the Westenra household is delayed), Lucy and her mother are attacked by a wolf. Mrs. Westenra, who has a heart condition, dies of fright, and Lucy apparently dies soon after.
Lucy is buried, but soon afterward the newspapers report children being stalked in the night by, in their words, a "bloofer lady" (i.e., "beautiful lady"). Van Helsing, knowing that this means Lucy has become a vampire, confides in Seward, Lord Godalming, and Morris. The suitors and Van Helsing track her down, and after a disturbing confrontation between her vampiric self and Arthur, they stake her heart, behead her, and fill her mouth with garlic.
Around the same time, Jonathan Harker arrives home from recuperation in Budapest (where Mina joined and married him after his escape from the castle); he and Mina also join the coalition, who turn their attentions to dealing with Dracula.
After Dracula learns of Van Helsing's and the others' plot against him, he takes revenge by visiting – and feeding from – Mina at least three times. Dracula also feeds Mina his blood, creating a spiritual bond between them to control her. The only way to forestall this is to kill Dracula first. Mina slowly succumbs to the blood of the vampire that flows through her veins, switching back and forth from a state of consciousness to a state of semi-trance during which she is telepathically connected with Dracula. This telepathic connection is established to be two-way, in that the Count can influence Mina, but in doing so betrays to her awareness of his surroundings.
After the group sterilizes all of his lairs in London by putting pieces of consecrated host in each box of earth, Dracula flees back to his castle in Transylvania, transported in a box with transfer and portage instructions forwarded, pursued by Van Helsing's group, who themselves are aided by Van Helsing hypnotizing Mina and questioning her about the Count. The group splits in three directions. Van Helsing goes to the Count's castle and kills his trio of brides, and shortly afterwards all converge on the Count just at sundown under the shadow of the castle. Harker and Quincey rush to Dracula's box, which is being transported by Gypsies. Harker shears Dracula through the throat with a Kukri while the mortally wounded Quincey, slashed by one of the crew, stabs the Count in the heart with a Bowie knife. Dracula crumbles to dust, and Mina is freed from his curse.
The book closes with a note about Mina's and Jonathan's married life and the birth of their first-born son, whom they name after all four members of the party, but refer to only as Quincey in remembrance of their American friend.
Between 1879 and 1898, Stoker was a business manager for the world-famous Lyceum Theatre in London, where he supplemented his income by writing a large number of sensational novels, his most famous being the vampire tale Dracula published on 26 May 1897.:269 Parts of it are set around the town of Whitby, where he spent summer holidays. Throughout the 1880s and 1890s, authors such as H. Rider Haggard, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle, and H. G. Wells wrote many tales in which fantastic creatures threatened the British Empire. Invasion literature was at a peak, and Stoker's formula of an invasion of England by continental European influences was by 1897 very familiar to readers of fantastic adventure stories. Victorian readers enjoyed it as a good adventure story like many others, but it would not reach its iconic legendary status until later in the 20th century when film versions began to appear.
Shakespearean actor and friend of Stoker's, Sir Henry Irving was a real-life inspiration for the character of Dracula, tailor-made to his dramatic presence, gentlemanly mannerisms and affinity for playing villain roles. Irving, however, never agreed to play the part on stage.Before writing Dracula, Stoker spent seven years researching European folklore and stories of vampires, being most influenced by Emily Gerard's 1885 essay "Transylvania Superstitions".
Despite being the most widely known vampire novel, Dracula was not the first. It was preceded and partly inspired by Sheridan Le Fanu's 1871 "Carmilla", about a lesbian vampire who preys on a lonely young woman, and by Varney the Vampire, a lengthy penny dreadful serial from the mid-Victorian period by James Malcolm Rymer. The image of a vampire portrayed as an aristocratic man, like the character of Dracula, was created by John Polidori in "The Vampyre" (1819), during the summer spent with Frankenstein creator Mary Shelley, her husband, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron in 1816. The Lyceum Theatre, where Stoker worked between 1878 and 1898, was headed by the actor-manager Henry Irving, who was Stoker's real-life inspiration for Dracula's mannerisms and who Stoker hoped would play Dracula in a stage version. Although Irving never did agree to do a stage version, Dracula's dramatic sweeping gestures and gentlemanly mannerisms drew their living embodiment from Irving.
The Dead Un-Dead was one of Stoker's original titles for Dracula, and up until a few weeks before publication, the manuscript was titled simply The Un-Dead. Stoker's Notes for Dracula show that the name of the count was originally "Count Wampyr", but while doing research, Stoker became intrigued by the name "Dracula", after reading William Wilkinson's book Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia with Political Observations Relative to Them (London 1820), which he found in the Whitby Library, and consulted a number of times during visits to Whitby in the 1890s. The name Dracula was the patronym (Drăculea) of the descendants of Vlad II of Wallachia, who took the name "Dracul" after being invested in the Order of the Dragon in 1431. In the Romanian language, the word dracul (Romanian drac "dragon" + -ul "the") can mean either "the dragon" or, especially in the present day, "the devil". Vlad III would later partly inspire the vampire in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel “Dracula”.
The novel has been in the public domain in the United States since its original publication because Stoker failed to follow proper copyright procedure. In the United Kingdom and other countries following the Berne Convention on copyrights, however, the novel was under copyright until April 1962, fifty years after Stoker's death. When F. W. Murnau's unauthorized film adaptation Nosferatu was released in 1922, the popularity of the novel increased considerably, owing to the controversy caused when Stoker's widow tried to have the film removed from public circulation.