Count Dracula is one of the most famous characters in literature. Created by Bram Stoker as the main antagonist of his 1897 horror novel Dracula, the character has since achieved legendary status and has featured in hundreds of movies and novels. Know about on whom the character is based; inspirations for the novel and character; his characteristics; and his impact on popular culture through these 10 interesting facts.
#1 Dracula is the most featured character in movies after Sherlock Holmes
Written by Irish author Bram Stoker, Dracula is a 1987 horror novel which introduced the famous character Count Dracula. The character’s popularity can be gauged from the fact that more than 200 films have been made that feature him in a major role. The number is second only to Sherlock Homes. Also more than 1000 novels have been written which feature the vampire Dracula.
#2 The character Dracula is most probably inspired by Vlad the Impaler
Bram Stoker came across the name ‘Dracula’ while reading Romanian history and chose this name to replace the name (Count Wampyr) he had originally intended for his villain. The name is derived from a Chivalric order called the Order of the Dragon. There is conjecture and debate on whether the character Dracula was inspired by Wallachian Prince, Vlad III Dracula. Vlad III was known for his cruelty and has supposedly killed 40,000 to 100,000 people. His favorite method for torture and execution was impalement due to which he is called Vlad the Impaler.
#3 His gentlemanly manners are inspired from the actor Henry Irving
Though previously vampires were often portrayed as repulsive, corpse-like creatures, Bram Stoker’s Dracula displays an aristocratic charm. His real life inspiration for the dramatic sweeping gestures and gentlemanly mannerisms of Dracula was actor-manager Henry Irving, who is also the first actor to be awarded a knighthood. Bram Stoker hoped that Irving would play Dracula in a stage version but it never happened.
#4 The novel is partly influenced by earlier vampire fiction
Although Dracula is the most famous vampire novel, it is not the first. It is partly inspired by the Gothic novella Carmilla which was written 26 years earlier. Written by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Carmilla tells the story of a lesbian vampire who preys on a lonely young woman. Another significant vampire novel before Dracula is Varney the Vampire by James Malcolm Rymer. Published in 1847, Varney the Vampire significantly influenced vampire fiction, including Dracula.
#5 Dracula was not a success initially and didn’t earn much for Stoker
The novel was not an immediate success and didn’t make much money for Bram Stoker. In fact in the last year of his life he was so poor that he had to petition for a compassionate grant from the Royal Literary Fund. In 1922, an unauthorized adaptation of the novel, titled Nosferatu, was released in theaters. During the resulting legal battle between Bram Stoker’s widow and the director, the popularity of the novel began to grow. In 1931 an American movie version was released which was directed by Tod Browning with Bela Lugosi playing the title character. Since then the novel has never been out of print and has reached a legendary iconic status.
#6 The 1931 movie Dracula is considered a classic
The 1931 movie Dracula was a blockbuster and today it is widely regarded as a classic in its genre. In 2000, the United States Library of Congress deemed the film “culturally significant” and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. In 2003, Count Dracula, as portrayed by Lugosi, was named as the 33rd greatest movie villain by the American Film Institute.
#7 Dracula pities humans for their revulsion to their dark side
Dracula has been described by Stoker as thin, with a long white mustache, pointed ears and sharp teeth. He wears a mask of cordiality but flies into fits of rage when someone interferes with his plans. He speaks excellent English and is proficient in alchemy and magic. Also he pities ordinary humans for their revulsion to their darker impulses.
#8 He can transfer his vampiric condition to others
Dracula is supposed to have strength equivalent to at least 20 strong men. Among his other supernatural powers are his powerful hypnotic and telepathic abilities, shape-shifting, teleportation, creating mists to hide his presence and commanding nocturnal animals like bats. He can climb upside down vertical surfaces in a reptilian manner and pass through tiny cracks or crevices. He also has the ability to transfer his vampiric condition to others by feeding on victims and then feeding them his blood.
#9 He can be killed by decapitation followed by impalement through his heart
Dracula is much less powerful during the day losing several of his powers including shape-shifting. He is repulsed by garlic and crucifixes and cannot enter a place uninvited. He also requires Transylvanian soil to be nearby to him in order to successfully rest or else he is unable to recover his strength. The only definite way to kill Dracula is by decapitating him followed by impalement through his heart.
#10 Due to Dracula, Transylvania is associated with vampires
The character Dracula is among the most famous characters. It appears frequently in popular culture from literature to stage to films to games to songs to comics to breakfast cereals. He has been portrayed by more actors in more visual media adaptations of the novel than any other horror character. Transylvania, which is the abode of the Count in the novel, has become commonly associated with vampires in the English-speaking world.