Dracula

The classic gothic horror novel Dracula by Bram Stoker was first published 26th May 1897. it features an Estate Agent named Jonathan Harker who is dispatched to Transylvania to finalize the move of a mysterious and enigmatic Romanian nobleman called Count Dracula to England. Unfortunately Harker encounters the deadly Brides of Dracula who almost kill him. Meanwhile the Count leaves Transylvania and travels to England aboard the vessel Dimeter, however all the crew mysteriously vanish and the ship runs aground at Whitby. Dracula successfully purchases multiple estates under the alias ‘Count De Ville’ throughout London. Dracula encounters Lucy Westenra, who lives in Whitby, and she begins suffering from episodes of sleepwalking and dementia. Lucy receives three marriage proposals from Dr. John Seward, Quincey Morris, and Arthur Holmwood (the son of Lord Godalming who later obtains the title himself. Dracula communicates with Seward’s mentally unstable patient Renfield. When Lucy begins to waste away suspiciously.

Seward invites his old teacher, Abraham Van Helsing, who immediately determines the true cause of Lucy’s condition. He diagnoses inexplicable blood loss. Helsing prescribes numerous blood transfusions to which Dr. Seward, Helsing, Quincy and Arthur all contribute over time. Helsing also prescribes flowers to be placed throughout her room and weaves a necklace of withered Garlic Blossoms for her to wear as well. She however continues to waste away – appearing to lose blood every night. Lucy and her mother are attacked by a wolf; Mrs. Westenra, dies of fright. Van Helsing attempts to protect her with garlic. The doctors find two small puncture marks about her neck, which Dr Seward is at a loss to understand. Helsing then places a crucifix around her neck, but soon after she is discovered dead with the crucifix missing.

Following Lucy’s death, the newspapers report children being stalked in the night Van Helsing, knowing Lucy has become a vampire, confides in Seward, Lord Godalming, and Morris. The suitors and Van Helsing track her down and confront her. Meanwhile Jonathan Harker arrives from Budapest, where Mina marries him after his escape. They team up to clobber Dracula however Dracula learns of the group’s plot against him, and attacks Mina on three occasions, and feeds Mina his own blood to control her. This curses Mina with vampirism but does not completely turn her into a vampire. Van Helsing attempts to cure Mina and hypnotized her into revealing Dracula’s whereabouts. Having discovered their actions Dracula flees back to his castle in Transylvania and They pursue him under the guidance of Mina leading to an exciting final showdown.

Bram Stoker was born 8 November 1847 in Clontarf, Dublin Ireland and was bed-ridden until he started school at the age of seven, when he made a complete recovery. Of this time, Stoker wrote, “I was naturally thoughtful, and the leisure of long illness gave opportunity for many thoughts which were fruitful according to their kind in later years.” He was educated in a private school run by the Rev. William Woods.After his recovery, he grew up without further major health issues, even excelling as an athlete (he was named University Athlete) at Trinity College, Dublin, which he attended from 1864 to 1870. He graduated with honours in mathematics. He was auditor of the College Historical Society and president of the University Philosophical Society, where his first paper was on “Sensationalism in Fiction and Society”.

Stoker became interested in the theatre while a student through a friend, Dr. Maunsell. He became the theatre critic for the Dublin Evening Mail, co-owned by the author of Gothic tales Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. Stoker also wrote stories, and in 1872 “The Crystal Cup” was published by the London Society, followed by “The Chain of Destiny” in four parts in The Shamrock. In 1876, while a civil servant in Dublin, Stoker wrote a non-fiction book (The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland, published 1879), which remained a standard work . Furthermore, he possessed an interest in art, and was a founder of the Dublin Sketching Club in 1874. On 31 December 1879, Stoker became acting manager and then business manager of Irving’s Lyceum Theatre, London, he became involved in London’s high society, and met Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (to whom he was distantly related)

Managing one of the most successful theatres in London made Stoker a notable if busy man. In London Stoker also met Hall Caine who became one of his closest friends – he dedicated Dracula to him. Although Stoker travelled the world, he never visited Eastern Europe, a setting for his most famous novel. Stoker enjoyed the United States,While working as a manager, secretary and director of London’s Lyceum Theatre, he began writing novels beginning with The Snake’s Pass in 1890 and Dracula in 1897. During this period, Stoker was also part of the literary staff of the London Daily Telegraph and wrote other fiction, including the horror novels The Lady of the Shroud (1909) and The Lair of the White Worm (1911). In 1906, he managed productions at the Prince of Wales Theatre. Before writing Dracula, Stoker spent several years researching European folklore and mythological stories of vampires. At the time of its publication, Dracula was considered a “straightforward horror novel” based on imaginary creations of supernatural life. “It gave form to a universal fantasy and became a part of popular culture.” Stoker’s inspirations for the story, in addition to Whitby, may have included a visit to Slains Castle in Aberdeenshire, a visit to the crypts of St. Michan’s Church in Dublin and the novella Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu.

Coincidentally The late great English Actor Peter Cushing OBE (Who starred in many film adaptations of Dracula was born on May 26th in 1913. He debuted in The Man in the Iron Mask, then returned in 1941 after roles in several films. In one, A Chump at Oxford (1940), he appeared alongside Laurel and Hardy. His first major film part was as Osric in Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet (1948). During the 1950s, he also worked in television, notably as Winston Smith in the BBC’s adaptation of the George Orwell novel Nineteen Eighty-Four and the films The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and Dracula (1958). He has also played the vampire hunter Dr. Van Helsing many times, and the distinguished-looking but sinister scientist Baron Frankenstein amongst many other roles, often appearing opposite Christopher Lee, and occasionally Vincent Price. A familiar face on both sides of the Atlantic, his most famous roles outside of “Hammer Horror” include his many appearances as Sherlock Holmes.

Peter Cushing also appeared as the villainous Imperial Officer Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars episode IV, which came out 25th May 1977 and which celebrates the 40th Anniversary of its release in 2017. His likeness was also digitally created for the film Rogue One.

Cushing also starred as the mysterious Timelord The Doctor in the film Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks – Invasion Earth 2150 AD in 1965 and 1966, both based on Doctor Who. Cushing is best rememberes for his  association with the roles of Baron Victor Frankenstein and Van Helsing in a long string of horror films produced by Hammer Film Productions, in which He was often cast opposite the actor Christopher Lee, with whom he became best friends and who also starred in Star Wars episodes II and III.

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