Dracula, the definitive vampire novel, achieved only moderate success in Bram Stoker's lifetime. It was only after the release of the first Dracula film that the novel attained its legendary status.
Book jacket by the Chelsea Bindery, courtesy Wikimedia

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  • 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.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    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.

    landscape Noun

    the geographic features of a region.

    Encyclopedic Entry: landscape
    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.