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What are the origins of Count Dracula?

The very first appearance of "Count Dracula" is in Bram Stoker's novel DRACULA (1897).

But Stoker did not make up the name "Dracula".

There was a Dracula in the 15th century: Vlad the Impaler. Stoker didn't know much about him (at least I don't think he did) but he came across his name in a book he was researching entitled AN ACCOUNT OF THE PRINCIPALITIES OF WALLACHIA AND MOLDAVIA (1820). This book has a very short section on a "Voivode Dracula" who fought against the Turks. What attracted Stoker to the name "Dracula" was a footnote by Wilkinson which stated that "Dracula in the Wallachian language means devil". Not quite accurate, but that is what Stoker saw and copied into his notes. He was originally going to call his vampire "Count Wampyr" but changed it to "Count Dracula." This change is clearly made in Stoker's own notes for DRACULA which are located at the Rosenbach Museum in philadelphia.

The real Dracula (about whom we know much more than Stoker ever did) was NOT a Count, nor was he a vampire (or ever associated with vampires). The two Draculas have become greatly confused in many people's minds.

It is my contention that Stoker was not, as many think, inspired by accounts of Vlad the Impaler to create the character of Count Dracula.

There is no evidence for that view. I explore this fully in Chapter 5 of my book

For a shortened version, click here

Count Dracula, of course, was not the first vampire. Vampires had existed in folklore and legend for hundreds of years, back to ancient times.

Stoker came across some information about vampire beliefs in Transylvania which he used in the novel. He was also familiar with earlier vampire literature written in English during the 19th century.

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COPYRIGHT©2005 Dr. Elizabeth Miller