Was Snow White Dracula’s mother?

Like on a catwalk, historical characters were presented to the masses of fans, as the sole inspiration for the legendary anti-hero.

Dearg Due, the female vampire from Irish mythology

Who inspired Bram Stoker to write one of the most influential stories of all time? Was it Henry Irwing, actor, and Bram Stoker’s boss, or was it Oscar Wilde or Lord Byron? Was it Vlad III the Impaler, 15th-century Wallachian prince, was it Elizabeth Bathory, the Blood Countess from 16th century Slovakia? Or was it Snow White?

Bram Stoker worked on the book for about seven years and for what we can tell drew inspiration from many sources. Of course, the social framework in which Dracula was written played a very important part. At the time the world and especially Great Britain as its unofficial center, was grappling with the consequences of groundbreaking discoveries such as Theory of Evolution by Charles Darwin and Germ Theory of Disease by Louis Paster, but also many breakthroughs in physics, mathematics, and biology. The public was amazed by these developments and the possibilities that they provided but also troubled by the questions that they have raised in terms of the nature of human existence, the meaning of life and religion. Thanks to the increase in literacy rate, especially among the middle class, people had access to more information than ever before. However many felt trapped by life in the overcrowded and polluted cities of industrial Britain with the burden of their family and religious tradition and hard labor, weighing heavy on their mundane existence.

As a form of escapism, the imagination of the masses was captured by mystical and esoteric, by exotic lands that were portrayed in books and diaries written by famous explorers and vagabonds. Desire to give in to impulses and indulge in earthly pleasures stood in contrast to strict social rules and norms of good behavior, In reality, this meant that many worked hard to preserve the image of moral and god-fearing citizens while secretly dreaming of life altogether different. Many did not stop at dreaming. This social phenomenon is well reflected in the literature of that time, more explicitly in works of Robert Lewis Stevenson and Oscar Wilde, but similar duality can also be observed in vampire novels.

Dracula was not the first blood fiend, but definitely the most defining one. Although vampires and vampires like creatures exist in almost every culture and mythology of the world, in English literature they appear in the 18th century. They do not take the central stage until the appearance of John Polidori’s The Vampyre in 1819. Polidori wrote it, during one especially rainy summer holiday on Lake Geneva in 1816, when a group of friends, confined to the cozy and warm indoors of the hotel, entertained themselves by telling spooky horror stories. The same soiree gave the world the story of Frankenstein by Mary Shelly. In 1872 La Fanu introduced us to his female vampire Carmilla, to whom he ascribed homosexual traits. This aspect of the story is subtle yet obvious and never explicitly mentioned. Strong allusions to frivolous sexual behavior we find in many literary works of the era, with Dracula being no exception.

Mythology and lore were a very important source of Stoker’s inspiration. He chooses Transylvania, an unknown and mystical land surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains, on the very eastern borders of the European continent, as a setting for much of his story. Not only that he used the name, but he decides to draw heavily from the superstition and beliefs of Eastern Europe.

Bran Castle in Transylvania, gathering place for many Dracula fans, but with no real significance for the story or historical characters related to it

As he had never visited Eastern Europe, not until well after his novel was written, famous Irish writer looked for inspiration in the work of travelers and adventurers.

Emily Gerrard spent a good part of her life traveling through Eastern Europe since her husband was an officer in the Austrian army. She wrote diaries from her travels in which she recorded spook stories and superstitions that were widespread in the rugged terrain of the Carpathian Basin. Her book The Land Beyond the Forest, published in 1890, describes in great detail the geography, culture, and people of Transylvania. In the essay Transylvanian Superstitions, published in 1895, she introduces the reader to the whole list of supernatural beings that the natives of her new home believe in. Among the many pixies, goblins, fairies a far more sinister name appears, Drakul or the devil. Emily Gerrard never had the luck of enjoying widespread acclaim, but her work did influence Stoker.

Another book, with a very robust title, An Account of Principalities of Moldavia and Walachia with Various Political Observations Relating to Them, written by William Wilkinson, British consul to Bucharest and published in 1820, was discovered by Bram Stoker in the library of Whitby, a small town in North Yorkshire. This book documents in a few very short sentences life of a Wallachian Prince named Dracula, no doubt a reference to the Vlad the Impaler Dracula. Whitby with its location on the sea and its romantic ruins undoubtedly served as a part of the setting for the novel too.

We shouldn’t forget yet another historical character, that played its part in the creation of the Count. Her name was Elizabeth Bathory or the Blood Countess. Elizabeth Bathory was accused of killing hundreds of people and draining them out of their blood in the belief that drinking it and rubbing it on her skin will forever grant her youthful looks. Her case is described by Sabine Baring Gould in the Book of the Werewolves published in 1865. Book deals mainly with the nordic belief in werewolves, and as such comprised an important part of Stoker’s research.

As we can see from everything that was said above, role models and sources of inspiration were many, We can say that, as with every good writer, Bram Stoker used the entirety of his life experience and a lot of hard work to create one of the most iconic anti-heroes in popular culture. Superficially read Dracula is a masterpiece of fiction, but in its deeper sense, just like Snow White, it addresses the social issues that remain actual until today. In its dealing with topics like addiction, sexual orientation, attitude towards tradition, role and conduct of women Bram Stoker provides us with the insight into Victorian society, which in many ways shaped the one that we are living in now, and with doing so also allows us to see where we stand in comparison.

And for the cheesy end, is the Snow White Dracula’s mother? Lips as red as rose, Hair as Black as Ebony, Skin as white as Snow. You tell me……