On May 26, 1897, the horror novel Dracula, by Irish author Bram Stoker, was published in London, England. The novel, written as a series of letters and journal entries, was only moderately popular in Stoker’s lifetime. Today, Dracula is considered the definitive vampire novel.
 
Stoker took his inspiration from many sources. Vampires, legendary creatures who feed on the blood of living beings, had been a part of Europe’s supernatural landscape for hundreds of years. Two real-life historical figures also inspired Stoker’s bloodthirsty count. The fictional Count Dracula’s home is in Transylvania, a part of modern-day Romania that was also home to Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler), whose family name was Dracula. Vlad’s habit of impaling his enemies on long wooden spikes inspired his nickname, although his sinister reputation only developed after his death. Stoker’s other inspiration was the Hungarian noblewoman Elizabeth Bathory, nicknamed the “Blood Countess.” Bathory was accused of having dozens of young women killed, and bathing in their blood.
 
The novel Dracula only became truly popular with the release of the first Dracula film (starring Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi in what would become his signature role) in 1931. Since then, the novel has never been out of print, and hundreds of versions of the story and its charismatic antihero have enjoyed similar success.
antihero
Noun

central character (protagonist) who lacks traditional heroic qualities.

charismatic
Adjective

capable of inspiring or influencing large numbers of people.

count
Noun

mid-ranking nobleman.

definitive
Adjective

complete and final.

fiction
Noun

media, such as books or films, that are imaginative and not true stories.

horror
Noun

terror or fear.

impale
Verb

to pierce on a sharpened stick.

inspiration
Noun

something that influences the development of an idea.

Noun

the geographic features of a region.

legendary
Adjective

famous, heroic, or celebrated.

moderate
Adjective

of medium quality or quantity, not extreme.

novel
Noun

fictional narrative or story.

publish
Verb

to provide a written piece of work, such as a book or newspaper, for sale or distribution.

reputation
Noun

estimation or value in which a person or thing is held.

signature
Adjective

unique identifying feature or characteristic.

sinister
Adjective

evil or threatening.

supernatural
Adjective

having to do with powers not explained by science or nature.

vampire
Noun

supernatural creature who drinks the blood of the living.

version
Noun

specific account or variation of something.