Page 7. " came after nightfall to Klausenburgh "
Cluj-Napoca (Klausenburgh)
Creative Commons AttributionCluj-Napoca (Klausenburgh) - Credit: Cristian Bortes/WIkimedia Commons

Klausenburgh is known today as Cluj-Napoca, capital of the province of Transylvania in Romania. At the time Dracula was written, Transylvania was a separate state under Austro-Hungarian rule, and not part of the kingdom of Romania.


Historic regions of Romania
Public DomainHistoric regions of Romania - Credit: Scooter20/Wikimedia Commons






Jonathan’s Journey:

Jonathan has travelled from England, through France, to Munich in Germany. From Munich he journeys to Vienna in Austria, before continuing on to Buda-Pesth (Budapest) in Hungary. Budapest is situated on the river Danube, which separates the two parts of the city, Buda and Pesth, once two separate cities. From Budapest he travels to Transylvania, now part of modern Romania. He stops at Klausenburgh, then continues on to Bistritz (Bistrița), a town in northern Transylvania. From there he finally makes his way to Castle Dracula, situated in the midst of the Carpathian mountains on the border of three states: Transylvania, Moldavia, and Bukovina.


Jonathan's journey from Munich to Bistrita
Public DomainJonathan's journey from Munich to Bistrița - Credit: GoogleMaps
Page 7. " paprika hendl "
Paprika Hendl
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikePaprika Hendl - Credit: danielshaurette on Flickr

Paprika Hendl (or Chicken Paprikash) is a Hungarian dish made with chicken, sweet paprika and lard. Recipes vary – there is no ‘official’ version – with some adding sour cream, tomatoes or green peppers, and sometimes substituting butter for lard.


A recipe for Chicken Paprikash. Read the comments below the recipe for variations and suggestions from other readers, many offering their own traditional family versions.

Another recipe, inspired by Dracula.

Page 7. " I had visited the British Museum "
The British Museum
GNU Free Documentation LicenseThe British Museum - Credit: Ham/Wikimedia Commons
The British Museum is a large archaeological museum located in London, housing artefacts from around the world and throughout history. Notable exhibits include the Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles, and the Sutton Hoo treasure.

British Museum website

Page 8. " to compare with our own Ordnance Survey maps "
Front Cover of a 1945 Ordnance Survey Map
Public DomainFront Cover of a 1945 Ordnance Survey Map - Credit: wikimedia commons

 Ordnance Survey maps are a series of detailed maps that together cover the whole of Britain, created for military purposes during the Napoleonic Wars. The popular Ordnance Survey ‘leisure maps’ are at one inch to the mile, showing small areas in detail. These are still available in traditional sheet-map form today. Larger scale maps at six-inches-to-the-mile or more were also created.

Ordnance Survey website


Part of a 1946 1-inch-to-the-mile Ordnance Survey map
Public DomainPart of a 1946 1-inch-to-the-mile Ordnance Survey map - Credit: Ordnance Survey
Page 8. " the post town named by Count Dracula "
Mail Coach, 1827
Public DomainMail Coach, 1827 - Credit: wikimedia commons

A post town was a town with a principal post office, at which the post-horses were kept. In Bram Stoker’s time, mail would have travelled by train or horse-drawn coach. The coaches made better speed than private stage-coaches, changing horses every ten to fifteen miles, with short stops only to collect and drop off mail at the post offices.

Page 8. " Saxons in the south, and mixed with them the Wallachs, who are the descendants of the Dacians "
Dacia, 82 BC
GNU Free Documentation LicenseDacia, 82 BC - Credit: Bogdan/Wikimedia Commons

Saxons are Germanic people who colonised Transylvania in the 12th and 13th centuries. Wallachs (Vlachs or Walachians) refers to Romanian ethnic people, a term often used for Romanians living outside Romania. The Dacians were an ancient people inhabiting the area of Dacia, roughly equivalent to modern Romania. Dacia was conquered by the Romans under the emperor Trajan in 106 AD, becoming a Roman province. The Romanians are descended from these Dacians and the Roman legionnaires and colonists.


Emily Gerard, a Victorian writer who lived and travelled in Transylvania, has a lot to say about the Saxons of Transylvania in The Land Beyond The Forest (a book that influenced Bram Stoker's own tale):


A Saxon Church in Netus, Transylvania
GNU Free Documentation LicenseA Saxon Church in Netus, Transylvania - Credit: Plinul cel tanar on wikimedia commons


"Whoever has lived among these Transylvanian Saxons, and has taken the trouble to study them, must have remarked that not only seven centuries’ residence in a strange land and in the midst of antagonistic races has made them lose none of their identity, but that they are, so to say, plus catholique que le pape—that is, more thoroughly Tentonic than the Germans living to-day in the original father-land. And it is just because of the adverse circumstances in which they were placed, and of the opposition and attacks which met them on all sides, that they have kept themselves so conservatively unchanged. Feeling that every step in another direction was a step towards the enemy, finding that every concession they made threatened to become the link of a captive’s chain, no wonder they clung stubbornly, tenaciously, blindly to each peculiarity of language, dress, and custom, in a manner winch has probably not got its parallel in history."


Gerard then goes on to list the numbers of different kinds of people found in a typical Transylvanian village:


"It may be of interest here to quote the statistical ‘figures relating to a large and flourishing village in the north-east of Transylvania:

Houses, 326 (of these 32 are earth hovels).

Heads of population, 1416—of these the proportion of different nationalities as follows:

Saxons—481 male, 499 female.


Roumanians—118 male, 88 female (mostly farm-servants).

Tziganes—104 men, 106 women.

Jews—14 male, 9 female."


Read more from Gerard about Saxons and villages in Transylvania here.

Page 8. " Magyars in the west, and Szekelys in the east and north. I am going among the latter, who claim to be descended from Attila and the Huns "
A Szekely village in Romania
Public DomainA Szekely village in Romania - Credit: KIDB/Wikimedia Commons

The Magyars are an ethnic group of Hungary. The Szekelys are a sub-group of Hungarian people, living mainly in Transylvania. The Szekelys claim to be descended from Attila the Hun (see bookmark for page 36)


Attila was king of the nomadic people called the Huns, who migrated from Asia into Europe and formed a unified empire. They plundered Roman cities and devastated a large part of the Roman Empire before being finally defeated in Gaul.


A popular song about the Szekely family, recorded by Emily Gerard in The Land Beyond the Forest, tells of their connection to Attila and his Huns. This was apparently one of Stoker’s main influences when writing Dracula


Attila the Hun
Public DomainAttila the Hun - Credit: wikimedia commons

A noble Szekel born and bred,

Full loftily I held my head;

Great Attila my sire was he,

As legacy he left to me


A dagger, battle-axe and spear;

A heart, to whom unknown is fear;

A potent arm, which oft has slain,

The Tartar foe in field and plain.


The scourge of Attila the bold

Still hangs among us of old;

And when this lash we swing on high,

Our enemies are forced to fly.


The Szekel proud then learn to know,

And strive not to become his foe,

For blood of Huns runs in him warm,

                                                                        And, well he knows to wield his arm.



Page 8. " mamaliga "
by hector

Public DomainMamaliga - Credit: Victor
Mămăligă is a traditional Romanian maize porridge, similar to polenta.  It is thick enough to be cut into slices like bread, and is often served with sour cream and cheese.

Page 9. " The women looked pretty, except when you got near them "

Exhibiting typical Victorian superiority, the 19th century writer Emily Gerard, from her own experiences in Transylvania, makes a similar observation:


"From an artistic point of view these Saxons are decidedly an unlovely race. There is a want of flowing lines and curves and a superfluity of angles about them, most distressing to a sensitive eye. The women may usually be described as having rather good hair, indifferent complexions, narrow shoulders, flat busts, and gigantic feet. Their features, of a sadly unfinished wooden appearance, irresistibly reminded me of the figures of Noah and his family out of a sixpenny Noah’s ark. There is something Noah’s-ark-like, too, about their attire, which, running entirely in hard straight lines, with nothing graceful or flowing about them, no doubt helped to produce this Scriptural impression. The Saxon peasant is stiff without dignity, just as he is honest without being frank. Were the whole world peopled by this race alone, our dictionaries might have been lightened of a good many unnecessary words, such as elegance, grace, fascination, etc.

Of course, now and then one comes across an exception to this general rule and finds a pretty girl, like a white poppy in a field of red ones; but such exceptions are few and far between, and I have remarked that on an average it takes three well populated villages to produce two bonnie lassies.

The men are on the whole pleasanter to look at than the fair sex, having often a certain ungainly picturesqueness of their own, reminding one of old Flemish paintings." - The Land Beyond the Forest


Bram Stoker read Emily Gerard's book and used it as a source when writing Dracula. It is likely that her assessments here have influenced his own portrayal of Transylvania.


Page 9. " The strangest figures we saw were the Slovaks "
Slovak Peasant, 1908, Bovill, W.B. Forster
Public DomainSlovak Peasant, 1908, Bovill, W.B. Forster - Credit: wikimedia commons

Slovaks are a western Slavic people, who today mainly inhabit Slovakia, with small populations also found in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Serbia (and the U.S. and Canada).


As Jonathan travels across Hungary and Romania he sees a large cultural mix of people from Hungarian, Romanian and Slavic ethnic groups, such as the Czechs (western Slavic), Magyars (Hungarians), Szekelys (Hungarians in Transylvania), Wallachs (Romanians), Servians (archaic term for Serbians), and Slovaks.


In the Victorian writer Edith Durham's account of travelling in the Balkan lands, she notes that the Slavic people are split into many different cultures who have a long history of conflict. This antagonism and suspicion is still strong in her (and Bram Stoker's) day:


"Inability to cohere is ever the curse of Slav lands. Only a strong autocrat has as yet welded them." - Twenty Years of Balkan Tangle


Current distribution of Slavic languages in Europe (2008)
Public DomainCurrent distribution of Slavic languages in Europe (2008) - Credit: Brianski/wikimedia commons

Later, this suspicion causes trouble for the Victorian traveller:


"I made things worse by enlarging on my Montenegrin experiences for I had no idea then of the fact that there is nothing one Slav State hates so much as another Slav State, and truly thought to please him."  Read Twenty Years of the Balkan Tangle on Gutenberg here.


Emily Gerard, in The Land Beyond the Forest, also notes a general attitude of suspicion:


"This defensive attitude towards strangers which pervades the Saxon’s every word and action makes it, however, difficult to feel prepossessed in their favor...

...As a natural consequence of this mistrust, the spirit of speculation is here but little developed—for speculation cannot exist without some degree of confidence in one’s neighbor. They do not care to risk one Florin in order to gain ten, but are content to keep a firm grasp on what they have got. There are no beggars at all to be seen in Saxon towns, and one never hears of large fortunes gained or lost. Those who happen to be wealthy have only become so by the simple but somewhat tedious process of spending half their income only, during a period of half a century; and after they have in this manner achieved wealth, it does not seem to profit them much, for they go on living as they did before, nourishing themselves on scanty fare, and going to bed early in order to save the expense of lights."

Page 9. " It was on the dark side of twilight when we got to Bistritz "
City of Bistriţa
Public DomainCity of Bistriţa - Credit: Tuluz on wikimedia commons

Bistritz (Bistrița) was settled by Transylvanian Saxons. It is now the capital of Bistriţa-Năsăud County, Transylvania, situated on the Bistrița River.


Google Map


Emily Gerard, in The Land Beyond the Forest, describes what a Saxon town in Transylvania typically looks like. This is what Jonathan Harker may have experienced in Bistritz:


"Saxon villages are as easily distinguished from Roumanian ones, composed of wretched earthen hovels, as from Hungarian hamlets, which are marked by a sort of formal simplicity. The Saxon houses are larger and more massive; each one, solidly built of stone, stands within a roomy court-yard surrounded by a formidable stone wall. Building and repairing is the Saxon peasant’s favorite employment and the Hungarian says of him ironically that when the German has nothing better to do he pulls down his house and builds it up again by way of amusement.


Saxon fortified church in Transylvania
GNU Free Documentation LicenseSaxon fortified church in Transylvania - Credit: Plinul cel tanar on wikimedia commons

Each village is usually formed of one long principal street, extending sometimes fully an English mile along the high-road; only when the village happens to be built at a junction of several roads, the streets form a cross or triangle, in the centre of which mostly stands the church...

...The principal street, often broad enough to admit of eight carts driving abreast, presents but little life at first sight. The windows of the broad gable-end next the street have often got their shutters closed, for this is the best room, reserved for state occasions. Only when we open the gate and step into the large court-yard can we gain some insight into the life and occupations of the inhabitants.

Near to the entrance stands the deep draw-well, and all round are built the sheds and stables for sheep, horses, cows, and buffaloes, while behind these buildings another gate generally opens. into a spacious kitchen-garden. From the court five or six steps lead up to a sort of open veranda, where the peasant can sit in summer and overlook his farm laborers."


Read more about Saxon villages in The Land Beyond the Forest here

Page 9. " Count Dracula had directed me to go to the Golden Krone Hotel "

No such hotel existed at the time Bram Stoker wrote Dracula, but a hotel with this name has since been established to cater for tourists seeking to follow Jonathan’s journey.

The Golden Crown Hotel website

Dracula tour holidays in Romania, based around the sites mentioned in the book.


Page 10. " he and his wife crossed themselves "
Ravenna mosaic. Jesus is portrayed gesturing a sign of the cross like a Christian priest giving a blessing
Public DomainRavenna mosaic. Jesus is portrayed gesturing a sign of the cross like a Christian priest giving a blessing - Credit: wikimedia commons

The sign of the cross is a Christian ritual hand-gesture that can be used in prayer and worship, to bless someone, or to ward off evil. It traces the shape of a cross in the air or over the body, symbolising the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified and died for mankind’s sins. 

Page 11. " It is the eve of St George's Day "
An Orthodox icon showing Saint George
Public DomainAn Orthodox icon showing Saint George - Credit: wikipedia

 St. George’s Day honours the man who famously saved a town and its princess from a fearsome dragon. It is celebrated on the date of his death, usually taken as 29th April. In Dracula, St. George’s Day falls on May 5th, following the Eastern Orthodox tradition of using the Julian calendar. According to legend, St. George died as a martyr when he refused to give up his Christian faith before the pagan Roman emperor Diocletian.


Emily Gerard, a 19th Century author who lived in Transylvania and recorded its culture and traditions, wrote about St. George's Day in an essay about Transylvanian superstition. This was later included in The Land Beyond the Forest, a book read by Bram Stoker:


"Perhaps the most important day in the year is St George's, the 23rd of April (corresponds to our 5th of May), the eve of which is still frequently kept by occult meetings taking place at night in lonely caverns or within ruined walls, and where all the ceremonies usual to the celebration of a witches' Sabbath are put into practice.

The feast itself is the great day to beware of witches, to counteract whose influence square-cut blocks of green turf are placed in front of each door and window. This is supposed effectually to bar their entrance to the house or stables, but for still greater safety it is usual here for the peasants to keep watch all night by the sleeping cattle."


Read more about the St. George's Day traditions here.


Page 11. " as an English Churchman, I have been taught to regard such things as in some measure idolatrous "
A Crucifix
GNU Free Documentation LicenseA Crucifix - Credit: Raul654/Wikimedia Commons

A crucifix is a cross with a representation of Jesus’ body on it.

Jonathan is a member of the Protestant Church of England, a form of Christianity that broke away from Catholicism, rejecting some of its practices. They saw the extreme importance placed on ritual and holy objects to be idolatrous and therefore sinful. The woman who hands Jonathan the crucifix is of the Eastern Orthodox Christian faith. Eastern Orthodox worship also involves much ritual and displays of piety, as well as a great emphasis on the use of icons. To Jonathan, putting such importance onto an object such as a crucifix might have seemed sinful, as it diverts worship away from God to a mere symbol instead.

Page 12. " I must ask the Count about these superstitions "
Magic Circle
Public DomainMagic Circle - Credit: John William Waterhouse

In her essay 'Transylvanian Superstitions' Victorian writer Emily Gerard, who lived for a time in Transylvania, discusses the supernatural stories - and the traditions that accompany them - of the Transylvanian people. She identifies three sources of superstition:


1) The indigenous superstitions of the country, which are inextricably linked to its scenery and natural features. “There are innumerable caverns, whose mysterious depths seem made to harbor whole legions of evil spirits: forest glades fit only for fairy folk on moonlight nights, solitary lakes which instinctively call up visions of water sprites; golden treasures lying hidden in mountain chasms, all of which have gradually insinuated themselves into the minds of the, oldest inhabitants, the Romanians, and influenced their way of thinking”

2) Imported superstition, such as old Germanic stories and traditions.

3) The superstitions of the gypsies and wandering tribes.


According to Gerard, the 'spirit of evil' plays a huge part in Transylvanian belief:


13th century image of the Devil
Public Domain13th century image of the Devil - Credit: Herman the Recluse

"Transylvania might well be termed the land of superstition, for nowhere else does this curious crooked plant of delusion flourish as persistently and in such bewildering variety. It would almost seem as though the whole species of demons, pixies, witches, and hobgoblins, driven from the rest of Europe by the wand of science, had taken refuge within this mountain rampart, well aware that here they would find secure lurking-places, whence they might defy their persecutors yet awhile...

...The spirit of evil (or, not to put too fine a point upon it, the devil) plays a conspicuous part in the Romanian code of superstition, and such designations as the Gregynia Drakuluj (devil's garden), the Gania Drakuluj (devil's mountain), Yadu Drakuluj (devil's hell or abyss), etc., etc., which we frequently find attached to rocks, caverns, or heights, attest the fact that these people believe themselves to be surrounded on all sides by a whole legion of evil spirits.

The devils are furthermore assisted by witches and dragons, and to all of these dangerous beings are ascribed peculiar powers on particular days and at certain places."


Read Emily Gerard's essay on Transylvanian Superstition here.


Page 12. " it was a charm or guard against the evil eye "
Evil Eye Amulets
GNU Free Documentation LicenseEvil Eye Amulets - Credit: FocalPoint/Wikimedia Commons

The evil eye (or ‘Mal de ojo’) is a look that can cause bad luck or harm. It can be a deliberate stare intended to bring injury on another, or simply the detrimental consequence of an envious look or ill thought.


Turkish plane with protective ward against the Evil Eye
GNU Free Documentation LicenseTurkish plane with protective ward against the Evil Eye - Credit: FocalPoint/Wikimedia Commons

The evil eye is often thought to be particularly dangerous to children. Belief in the evil eye may have originated in ancient Egypt, and is common in Mediterranean countries, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Apotropaic (protective) symbols and talismans are used in many cultures to ward off the effects of the evil eye. These often take the form of a representation of an eye, with concentric blue and white circles.


Sign of the Horns
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeSign of the Horns - Credit: Ra Boe/Wikimedia Commons

In European Christian countries, another way to ward off the evil eye is to make the sign of the cross, then point two fingers (the index and the little finger) towards the person, as described here. This gesture is also known as the ‘sign of the horns,’ and is a vulgar sign in some Mediterranean countries. It is also used by heavy metal and rock bands, by supporters of the University of Texas as a gesture of school spirit (Hook ‘Em Horns), and in baseball to indicate that there are two outs in the inning.

Page 13. " Of old the Hospadars would not repair them "
by hector

The rulers of Moldavia and Wallachia (which united to form Romania) were called "Hospodar" (Lord) or "Voivod" (Warlord or Governor).

By the time of Dracula, Romania had become a kingdom, and so the term had fallen out of use.

Page 14. " I noticed that goitre was painfully prevalent "
by hector

Public DomainGoitre - Credit: Martin Finborud
Goitre is an affliction caused by iodine deficiency, where the thyroid gland in the neck swells up.  Iodine deficiency can also cause mental retardation, so the prevalence of goitre does not bode well for the health of the local population.

Of course, Harker's observation foreshadows a rather different affliction of the neck that we are about to encounter...

Page 16. " a caleche with four horses "
by hector
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeCalash - Credit: Janez Novak

A calash, or calèche, was a light carriage with a folding top and a separate seat for the driver. 

The calash was a forerunner of the barouche.

Page 16. " the line from Burger's 'Lenore' "
by hector
Public DomainLeonore - Credit: Johann David Schubert

Leonore is a 1773 German poem by Gottfried August Bürger. It was extremely popular and was an important influence in Romantic literature and, later, vampire literature.

Leonore's fiancé, William, has not returned from the Seven Years' War, and fearing the worst she turns against God. One night, a stranger resembling William appears on a horse and invites Leonore to ride away with him. She agrees, but is soon terrified by the speed they travel. Their destination is the cemetery where William's remains lie; the rider is none other than Death.


Page 18. " whispered something in their ears, as I have heard of horse-tamers doing "

Irishman Daniel Sullivan, who died in 1810, was a horse trainer and rehabilitator. Not much is known about him, since he was secretive about his actual methods. Some accounts say that he learned his basic method from "a gypsy". People who had seen him work assumed he was whispering to the horse because he stood so close to it. For that reason he became known as the "horse whisperer."

There are several well-known horse whisperers - or people using natural horsemanship methods to great effect - including Monty Roberts, Pat Parelli and Mark Rashid. Their methods vary, but they commonly use horse psychology and body language to train horses in a non-abusive manner.


Page 23. " I am Dracula "
Vlad III, the Impaler. 16th Century
Public DomainVlad III, the Impaler. 16th Century - Credit: wikimedia commons

The name Dracula means ‘son of Dracul’ (son of the Dragon). ‘Dracul’ is derived from the Latin Draco, meaning ‘dragon’; in modern Romanian it can also mean ‘devil.’ The title ‘Dracula’ belonged to a real historical figure, Vlad III (the impaler), prince of Wallachia in the 15th century.


Vlad III’s father was called ‘Dracul’ because he was a member of the Order of the Dragon, a chivalric order created in Hungary in the middle ages to fight the enemies of Christianity (in particular the Ottoman Turks). Vlad III is said to have killed thousands of civilians during his reign, with impalement on a sharp pole as his favoured method of execution.

Henry Irving
Public DomainHenry Irving - Credit: Lock and Whitfield, London


It is often assumed that Stoker’s Count Dracula is based on this historical figure. However, apart from the name there are few similarities. This has led some Dracula scholars to conclude that Stoker did not intend there to be any connection between Vlad and his Dracula, but simply chose a name he liked. Stoker had originally intended to name his villain Count Wampyr, before coming across Dracula in a Romanian history book.


Perhaps a different influence for the character of Dracula was Stoker’s employer and friend, the actor Henry Irving. Bram Stoker worked for Irving for nearly thirty years as business manager at the Lyceum Theatre in London. He developed a deep admiration for Irving, incorporating his gentlemanly mannerisms, gestures, forceful personality and tendency to play villains into the character of Dracula.

Page 24. " You will, I trust, excuse me that I do not join you; but I have dined already "
Creative Commons AttributionBlood - Credit: Cavin on Flickr

Throughout the book, Dracula is never seen to eat or drink. As a vampire, he does not consume normal food but instead drinks human blood. This is one aspect of vampire mythology that is shared across all vampire stories, though authorities differ as to whether a vampire can eat human food ‘for show’ so as not to arouse suspicion.


The importance of blood dates back to ancient times, when some societies believed that the life-force, strength and essence of a person existed in their blood. In many cultures, including ancient Greek and Roman society and some African tribes, blood was offered to the spirits of the dead in order to appease them. In the ancient Greek epic The Odyssey, the ghosts of the dead drink the blood offered to them by Odysseus, strengthening them and allowing them to talk to the hero. In ancient Rome, drinking a cup of gladiator’s blood was thought to be a cure for epilepsy.


Blood sacrifice formed an important part of Mayan religious ritual, and blood-drinking is also found in the mythology of the Hindu goddess Kali. In some cultures around the world it is believed that if a magician can obtain a sample of a person’s blood, he can control them or cast evil spells upon them. The Bible, too, has something to say about the importance of blood:


A sacred Mayan blood-letting sacrifice
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeA sacred Mayan blood-letting sacrifice - Credit: Urban/Wikimedia Commons

For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.

 Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood.

 And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust.

Leviticus 17, 10-14 


This is why orthodox Jews will only eat kosher meat, which has been drained of blood.

Page 24. " found him of a very marked physiognomy "
Illustration from a 19th century book about Physiognomy (on the left, 'Utter Despair', on the right, 'Rage Mixed with Fear')
Public DomainIllustration from a 19th century book about Physiognomy (on the left, 'Utter Despair', on the right, 'Rage Mixed with Fear') - Credit: wikimedia commons

 Physiognomy is the science of reading a person’s character and personality from their appearance, particularly the face. The theory was accepted amongst the ancient Greeks, fell out of favour in the Middle Ages, and gained a new popularity in the 19th century (Bram Stoker’s time). It is not generally taken seriously today, though new research may suggest a correlation between face width and aggression. Elsewhere in 19th century supernatural literature, physiognomy forms an underlying theme in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, and features prominently in the stories of Edgar Allan Poe.


The Picture of Dorian Gray on Book Drum

Page 24. " The mouth, so far as I could see it under the heavy moustache, was fixed and rather cruel-looking "
Sir Richard Burton
Public DomainSir Richard Burton - Credit: Frederic Leighton

Bram Stoker wrote a book about his beloved friend Henry Irving, titled Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving. In it, he records the time they met Sir Richard Burton, a Victorian explorer, writer, soldier and diplomat. Bram Stoker was struck by Burton's 'iron' appearance, and the description given seems to match some of Dracula's traits. Could Bram Stoker have been influenced by Richard Burton when creating the cruel, steely Count?


"But the man riveted my attention. He was dark, and forceful, and masterful, and ruthless. I have never seen so iron a countenance." - describing Richard Burton. p224


"The predominant characteristics were the darkness of the face - the desert burning; the strong mouth and nose, and jaw and forehead - the latter somewhat bold - and the strong, deep, resonant voice. My first impression of the man as of steel was consolidated and enhanced." - describing Richard Burton. p225


Compare the picture of Richard Burton (right) to this description of Dracula:

"His face was a strong - a very strong - aquiline, with high bridge of the thin nose and peculiarly arched nostrils; with lofty domed forehead, and hair growing scantily round the temples, but profusely elsewhere. His eyebrows were very massive... The mouth, so far as I could see it under the heavy moustache, was fixed and rather cruel-looking... the chin was broad and strong, and the cheeks firm though thin." - describing Dracula.


And, after Richard Burton remorselessly describes what it is like to kill a man:

"As he spoke the upper lip rose and his canine tooth showed its full length like the gleam of a dagger." - describing Richard Burton. p229


Read more about Bram Stoker, Henry Irving and Richard Burton in Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving.