Page 131. " There must be transfusion of blood at once "
Syringe for blood transfusion
GNU Free Documentation LicenseSyringe for blood transfusion - Credit: Ravn/Wikimedia Commons

A blood transfusion is the transference of some of a person’s blood directly into the circulatory system of another. This is done to replace lost blood or to treat blood diseases, and in many cases is a life-saving procedure.

When Dracula was written, blood transfusions were still a relatively new procedure, and were often unsuccessful. This was because scientists had not yet discovered blood groups, as is evident from the fact that Lucy is given the blood of four different men without testing! It is essential to ensure the donor and receiver’s blood types are compatible when transfusing, as otherwise the blood can clump or agglutinate, with fatal consequences. It wasn’t until 1901 that Karl Landsteiner discovered blood groups (A, B, AB, O), for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize.

Page 133. " blood so pure that we need not defibrinate it "
by hector

Fibrin is a protein formed from fibrinogen in the blood, strands of which glue platelets together to create a blood clot.  Fibrin is therefore essential to stopping bleeding (haemostasis), but it can also cause unwanted clots inside blood vessels (thrombosis) and will cause blood taken for transfusion to coagulate unless steps are taken to prevent it.  One such step is defibrination.

19th century Defibrination Apparatus
Public Domain19th century Defibrination Apparatus

The first human-to-human blood transfusion was performed by James Blundell in 1818.  He found that blood could be transfused successfully, even via a syringe, if the operation was concluded swiftly.  Any delay risked coagulation.  Various devices were invented to address the problem, including J.H. Aveling's direct transfusion apparatus (1872), but the use of defibrinated blood became the favoured solution.  Typically, blood was defibrinated by constant agitation in a container full of glass beads.

The idea of "blood so pure that we need not defibrinate it" appears to be medical nonsense.

Page 134. " Just over the external jugular vein "
by hector
The veins of the neck
Public DomainThe veins of the neck - Credit: Gray's Anatomy

The jugular veins carry deoxygenated blood from the head to the heart.

The external jugular can be seen on the far right of the drawing.

Page 140. " like the Lotus flower "
Odysseus saves his men from the Lotus Eaters
Public DomainOdysseus saves his men from the Lotus Eaters - Credit: wikimedia commons

In Greek mythology, the flowers and fruit of the Lotus plant brought apathy and forgetfulness to those who ate it. In the ancient Greek epic The Odyssey, Odysseus  and his men visit the land of the Lotus Eaters. There, some of his men quickly come under the strange effects of the Lotus plant, and he has to drag them forcibly back to the ships.

Page 140. " like the waters of Lethe "

The River Lethe
Public DomainThe River Lethe - Credit: Gustave Doré
 Lethe is a river of the Greek underworld that grants forgetfulness to those who drink from it. Spirits of the dead would drink its waters in order to let go of their earthly lives. In the Roman epic The Aeneid, souls of the dead must drink from Lethe before they can be reincarnated back into the world.

Page 140. " that fountain of youth that the Conquistadores sought for in the Floridas "
The Fountain of Youth, 1546
Public DomainThe Fountain of Youth, 1546 - Credit: Lucas Cranach the Elder

The Fountain of Youth is a mythical spring that restores the youth of those who drink from it.

In the 16th century, a conquistador (one of the Spanish soldier-explorers who conquered much of the Americas in the 15th-19th centuries) named Juan Ponce de León searched for the fountain in Florida.

Page 141. " Why, these flowers are only common garlic "
Wild Garlic Flowers
Creative Commons AttributionWild Garlic Flowers - Credit: Carol Rose/

Garlic has been used by many different societies throughout history as a powerful ward against evil. The garlic flowers, bulbs and juice can all be used for apotropaic effect, and are commonly prescribed in folklore as protection against evil spirits, witches, revenants (animated corpses) and vampires. In Romania, garlic was sometimes smeared on doors and windows, hung in wreaths inside the house or at gates and doorways, or even rubbed onto the horns of cattle. If a corpse was suspected of being in danger of becoming a vampire, garlic would be stuffed into the mouth and other orifices. The deceased body might also be anointed with a mixture of oil, fat, gunpowder and garlic. In Serbia, garlic under the pillow was thought to offer protection from witches in the night.

Garlic Cloves
GNU Free Documentation LicenseGarlic Cloves - Credit: Donovan Govan/Wikimedia Commons


Other folkloric wards against vampires include branches of the wild rose and hawthorn plants, mustard seeds sprinkled onto the roof of a house, holy items, running water (vampires cannot cross it), piercing the skin of a bloated corpse (to prevent it transforming or rising), and in some regions of Germany a lemon placed into the mouth of the corpse.

Page 143. " lying like Ophelia in the play, with 'virgin crants and maiden strewments "
Ophelia, John William Waterhouse, 1894
Public DomainOphelia, John William Waterhouse, 1894 - Credit: wikimedia commons

 Ophelia is a character from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. This line is spoken by the priest, describing her dead body laid out with garlands (crants) and strewn flowers (strewments) at her funeral.

Draped with wreaths of white garlic flowers and laid out on the bed, suffering from an unknown illness that severely weakens her, Lucy compares herself to a garlanded corpse. Before Ophelia died she had also gone mad; perhaps Lucy feels as if she too is losing her sanity in the face of the strange events and effects of her illness.



Her obsequies have been as far enlarged
As we have warranty: her death was doubtful;
And, but that great command o'ersways the order,
She should in ground unsanctified have lodged
Till the last trumpet: for charitable prayers,
Shards, flints and pebbles should be thrown on her;
Yet here she is allow'd her virgin crants,
Her maiden strewments and the bringing home
Of bell and burial.

Act V, Scene 1

by hector
Newsboy selling Pall Mall Gazette, 1871
Public DomainNewsboy selling Pall Mall Gazette, 1871 - Credit: O.G. Rejlander

The Pall Mall Gazette was a London evening newspaper founded in 1865.  It merged with The Evening Standard in 1923.

Pall Mall is a prestigious street between Trafalgar Square and Green Park.


Page 146. " the section of the Zoological Gardens in which the wolf department is included "
by hector


Wolf, c1895
Public DomainWolf, c1895 - Credit: Alfred Wierusz-Kowalski
The wolves at London Zoo used to be housed in an enclosure beside the Broadwalk in Regent's Park.  They have now been moved to the much larger Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire.


Given the amount of Hamlet quoted in Dracula, there is a twentieth century connection that Bram Stoker would have enjoyed in the 1987 movie Withnail & I, at the end of which Richard E. Grant poignantly recites Hamlet to the London Zoo wolves.


Page 148. " what we called Bersicker "
by hector

Bersicker is a fine name for a Norwegian wolf under the control of a malign influence.  It brings to mind the Berserkers, Norse warriors who seemed to descend into a furious and mad frenzy when they fought - possibly as the result of psychological rituals or even drugs taken before battle.  The Úlfhéðnar are of particular interest here, for their habit of wearing wolf skins in battle.  The word berserker comes from the old Norwegian for bear-shirt.

Page 148. " came from Norway to Jamrach's "
by hector

Jamrach and the Tiger
Public DomainJamrach and the Tiger
Charles Jamrach (1815-1891) was a German dealer in wildlife who ran an exotic animal shop and a menagerie in the east end of London.  He traded in rhinoceroses, cougars, tigers, wombats and elephants, among other species. 

On one occasion, Jamrach famously wrestled with an escaped tiger to save the life of a small boy (pictured).  His own account of the event can be read here.

Although Jamrach had died by the time of Dracula's publication, two of his sons kept the business going until 1919.