I want to drink to your blood.

Mix yourself a tall  Bloody Mary, find yourself a comfortable chair and heave a toast to the man. The man being Bram Stoker who gave the world Count Dracula on this very day in 1897. Though Stoker’s Dracula was the beginning of a vampire heyday, the aristocratic fiend was imagined over 80 years before.

It was a weirdly rainy summer in 1916 and a group of five friends were hanging out in Lake Geneva. Cooped up in the villa, they entertained themselves by taking laudanum and telling ghost stories. Then they began writing their own because they knew how.

It was the writer, Mary Shelley; her husband, the poet Percy Shelley; and her step sister, Clair Clairemont. The home belonged to the poet and novelist, Lord Bryron, who had invited his personal physician, John Polidori. By the time the rain let up, Clair was pregnant with a little lady, Mary had written Frankenstein and Doc Polidori, no less, had written a short story he called The Vampyre.

Flash forward 5+ decades to Carmilla, a tale of a lesbian vampire by Le Fanu and then Varny the Vampire which appeared in a penny serial.

Twenty years later Stoker picks up the character and makes history. The working title for his book was The Dead Un-Dead and his protagonist was Count Wampyr. He stumbled on the name Dracula while doing research on Romanian history.

Good choice. If Stoker had gone with Count Wampyr instead of Count Dracula, I don’t think we’d be drinking any Bloody Marys tonight.

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