The best books to dive deeper into Dracula

Who am I?

I saw Francis Coppola’s movie Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1992, but studied the novel only after I created a photo story, The Ultimate Dracula (Munich, 2012). Next to the images, my book presented the true location Stoker had in mind for his fictitious Castle Dracula (No, not Bram Castle), and the historical person he referred to while speaking about Count Dracula (No, not Vlad the Impaler). The next steps were discovering the true locations of Carfax and the Scholomance, unraveling the backgrounds of the Icelandic and Swedish versions of Dracula, and unearthing the first US serialization. I simply love to solve riddles. By now, I am organizing international Dracula conferences.


I wrote...

Powers of Darkness: The Lost Version of Dracula

By Hans C. De Roos (translator), Bram Stoker, Valdimar Ásmundsson

Book cover of Powers of Darkness: The Lost Version of Dracula

What is my book about?

Powers of Darkness presents the English translation of the Icelandic version of Dracula (1900). Although its preface had been known since 1986, only in 2014 I discovered that the Icelandic text was radically different from Stoker’s original. It describes Count Dracula leading an international conspiracy trying to overthrow Western democracy, and acting as the high priest of a horde of ape-like, violent followers. The story highlights the erotic adventures of Tom (Jonathan) Harker and Dr. John Seward, both being seduced by beautiful, mysterious women. With various essays, illustrations, and detailed annotation. The New York Times: “It will have a lasting impact on the world of vampire studies.” Times Literary Supplement: “An invaluable extension to our knowledge about Bram Stoker’s Dracula.”

The books I picked & why

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The New Annotated Dracula

By Bram Stoker,

Book cover of The New Annotated Dracula

Why this book?

Leslie Klinger’s annotated version of Dracula is one of the most recent editions, and it surely is the most entertaining one, suitable for readers who are no Dracula experts (yet). Some of his comments build on the (purely fictional) assumption that the Count himself had his hand in editing Stoker’s text. In a single instance, when it comes to the historical Dracula family, Klinger drops the ball, but he makes a unique contribution to Dracula Studies by comparing Dracula’s final text with that of Stoker’s typescript, found in a barn in Pennsylvania in the 1980s. His attention to geographical details greatly inspired my own research into this matter. The book comes with a number of illustrations and helpful appendixes.


Bram Stoker: A Biography of the Author of Dracula

By Barbara Belford,

Book cover of Bram Stoker: A Biography of the Author of Dracula

Why this book?

Barbara Belford’s 1996 book is one of the classics in its field, next to the Stoker biographies by Harry Ludlam, Daniel Farson, and Paul Murray. With a background in journalism, Belford created a very readable introduction to Stoker’s life. Her book still is an invaluable source for fans and scholars trying to understand the making of Dracula. It is a good stepping stone for readers who would like to dive deeper later on, e.g., by studying David Skal’s more recent work, Something in the Blood. For me personally, it gave me a very colorful image of Stoker’s life and helped me better understand him as a person and an author.


Dracula: Sense and Nonsense

By Elizabeth Miller,

Book cover of Dracula: Sense and Nonsense

Why this book?

A must-have for everyone who wants to learn about Dracula. In short chapters and with humorous language, Miller wipes the floor with all authors who never cared to do their homework and have been spreading misunderstandings about Stoker’s epochal novel. Taken altogether, it outlines what I would call the “Millerian paradigm,” claiming that as an author of fiction, Stoker was not bound to historical or geographical accuracy, and may have messed up a detail or two. By now, I have demonstrated that Stoker was more precise than Miller believed, and have worded a new paradigm focusing on the “Paradox of Fact and Fiction” Stoker was caught in. But we all stand on the shoulders of giants, and Elizabeth Miller was the most important of them.


Hollywood Gothic: The Tangled Web of Dracula from Novel to Stage to Screen

By David J. Skal,

Book cover of Hollywood Gothic: The Tangled Web of Dracula from Novel to Stage to Screen

Why this book?

This book is key to understanding the “transmediation” of Dracula: the metamorphosis of Stoker’s story by adapting it for new media, such as theatrical and movie versions. As Bram Stoker died in 1911, his widow Florence played a key role in negotiating the rights for such modifications, and fighting the pirated screen version of Nosferatu created in Germany by Prana Film. As David Skal put it, Dracula is very much a story about control, and the subsequent developments show how Bram and then Florence tried to keep the lid on the unauthorized dissemination and adaptation of the Dracula novel—but failed in the end. Highly recommended reading for all who are interested in the question of how Dracula became so popular all over the world.


The Origins of Dracula: Background to Bram Stoker's Gothic Masterpiece

By Clive Leatherdale,

Book cover of The Origins of Dracula: Background to Bram Stoker's Gothic Masterpiece

Why this book?

Although Bram Stoker was a fiction writer presenting us with a fantastic, supernatural story, he did meticulous research in an effort to create a convincing backdrop: history, geography, psychology, vampire lore, dreaming and somnambulism, animal behavior, the history of the Devil—yes, even seamen’s yarn was the subject of Stoker’s studies. Dracula scholar Clive Leatherdale has done a superb job by tracking the novelist’s key sources, summarizing them for us and highlighting their relevance for the making of Dracula. A decade later, Leatherdale would release Bram Stoker’s Dracula Unearthed, an annotated edition of the novel. To find affordable second-hand editions of both classics, you have to search the Internet a bit, but for everyone aspiring to become a Dracula expert, both books are indispensable.


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