|Image from Linkmesh|
Dracula, published in 1897, is the story of a vampire from Transylvania who travelled to England. When his ship was damaged in a terrible storm, Dracula – the vampire – jumped to land at Whitby in the shape of a huge dog. Stoker, the author, is known to have consulted books on legends from Transylvania, Moldavia, and the Carpathians at the local library at Whitby and later in the British Library in London.
The Dracula of Transylvanian legend appears to originate from Vlad Dracul II, Prince of Walachia (1456-1476), known for his prodigious cruelties both to enemies – the invading Turks – and his own people.
However, he was not a vampire. It is suggested that Stoker’s Count Dracula was a composite figure derived from Vlad Dracul and the Countess Báthori. This lady was a Hungarian aristocrat who was arrested in 1610 for murdering girls. It was her habit to wash in the blood of her victims in order to stay young and to maintain her skin in a perfect condition.