Bram Stoker's Research For 'Dracula' Uncovered By The London Library

Andrew Denny

The London Library has uncovered 26 books in its collection that are almost certainly the original copies that Bram Stoker used to research and write his infamous Gothic horror novel Dracula, according to the London Library's website. Using copies of Stoker's handwritten and typed notes that were discovered in 1913, London Library Development Director Phillip Spedding was able to discover the books within the library's collection. The notes list a range of sources that Stoker used in his research, with hundreds of references to individual lines and phrases that he found relevant.

Spedding was able to use the notes and trace its references to books at the Library. Upon examination of the texts, detailed markings that closely match the references in the notes emerged. Stoker's markings include underlinings and crosses on matching paragraphs, page turnings on key pages, and instructions for someone to copy entire paragraphs of the texts into Stoker's typewritten notes.

The two books most heavily marked by Stoker are the Book of Were-Wolves by Sabine Bearing-Gould and Pseudodoxica Epidemica by Thomas Browne. Additionally, some of the titles reflect Stoker's research on the geography and history of Transylvania, including A.F. Crosse's Round About The Carpathians and Charles Boner's Transylvania.

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The library's claims are supported by the fact that Stoker held a seven-year membership at the library at almost exactly the same time that he was working on Dracula. Archive Librarian Helen O'Neill found that Stoker joined the library in 1890, which was the year that Stoker visited Whitby and the idea for the novel began to gestate. Stoker's last year of membership at the library ended in 1897, the year that Dracula was published. Stoker's library membership was seconded by Henry Hill Caine, who the novel is dedicated to under the nickname "Hommy-Beg." Caine was a bestselling author at the time and helped Stoker transition to his second career as a novelist after a successful career as the manager of the Lyceum Theatre.

"This is a very exciting discovery," said Nick Groom, a professor at Exeter University and a leading expert on Gothic literature.

"I have examined the books and their annotations with Philip Spedding and have compared them with Bram Stoker's own notes. I am in no doubt that Bram Stoker used these very copies for Dracula – a book that took him seven years to write. They demonstrate that The London Library was the crucible of one of the most influential novels in world history."

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