The acclaimed author of The Last Greatest Magician in the World sleuths out literature's iconic vampire, uncovering the source material—from folklore and history, to personas including Oscar Wilde and Walt Whitman—behind Bram Stoker's lord of the undead.
Praise for Who Was Dracula?
“A fantastic, well-documented story.” —Library Journal (starred review)
“[A] well-researched and entertaining take on Dracula’s origin story.” —Publishers Weekly
“Who Was Dracula? chronicles the misadventures of Bram Stoker and his numerous friends and colleagues, both famous and obscure, hoping to unearth the recipe for a truly iconic character.” —San Francisco Book Review
“Who Was Dracula? is a book you’ll want to sink your teeth into.” —“The Bookworm Sez”
To get to the bottom of novelist Bram Stoker s inspiration for his infamous Count Dracula, Steinmeyer (The Last Greatest Magician in the World) investigates turn-of-the-century London through the lens of Stoker s cohort of actors and writers. At the forefront is Henry Irving, the renowned English actor widely recognized as the vampire s chief influence. Stoker himself admits Dracula to be a composite of so many parts in which he has been liked. The opening chapters cover Stoker s life as Acting Manager at Irving s Lyceum Theatre, a job that placed him in the midst of macabre classics such as Faust and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde surely influences on his tastes if not on his greatest novel. From this position, the novelist met with Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde, and (potentially) Jack the Ripper or Dr. Francis Tumblety, Scotland Yard s prime suspect in the gruesome murders. By detailing the relationship Stoker had to these diverse figures, Steinmeyer presents a composite inspiration for the mad vampire. His analysis of Whitman s influence on Dracula s voice proves most compelling. Though some of Steinmeyer s arguments, especially regarding the role of Wilde, are less convincing, overall, this is a well-researched and entertaining take on Dracula s origin story.