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Dracula author Bram Stoker terrified Aberdeenshire residents by landing ‘like a big bat’

Dracula author Bram Stoker terrified Aberdeenshire residents by landing

The terrifying image of Dracula has been conjured up both on the screen and in the minds of readers since the novel’s publication in 1897.

The story of the vile bloodsucking earl who comes to Britain from Transylvania was written by Bram Stoker and published in 1897.

But while writing his novel, Stoker scared the residents of an Aberdeenshire village by adopting a bat-like pose while sitting on rocks – one historian has found.

Historian Mike Shepherd flipped through hotel registers, letters, newspaper clippings and interviews to learn about Stoker’s month-long sojourn in Cruden Bay, home to the haunted 16th-century Slains Castle.

According to The Guardian, he discovered an interview with the author’s wife, Florence, who recounted how Stoker took on a form of method acting in an attempt to get into the mind of the evil Dracula.

Local residents, including hotel staff and residents, are said to be afraid of him. She described how he “sats for hours, like a big bat perched on the rocks of the shore.”

The terrifying image of Dracula has been conjured up both on the screen and in the minds of readers since the novel’s publication in 1897. Above: Christopher Lee starring in the 1972 adaptation Dracula AD 1972

The Story of the Wicked Bloodsucking Earl Who Comes to Britain from Transylvania was written by Bram Stoker and published in 1897, Boven: Stoker in 1900

The Story of the Wicked Bloodsucking Earl Who Comes to Britain from Transylvania was written by Bram Stoker and published in 1897, Boven: Stoker in 1900

She added that he would “wander up and down the sand hills alone” as he pondered the plot of his novel.

Part of Stoker’s novel is set in the Yorkshire seaside town of Whitby, which the author had drawn inspiration from during a previous holiday.

But Stoker actually wrote much of his book during his time in Cruden Bay.

In 1927, Florence said, “When he was working on Dracula, we were all afraid of him.

“It was on a lonely part of the east coast of Scotland, and he seemed to be obsessed with the spirit of the thing.

“There he sat for hours, like a big bat, on the rocks of the shore, or just wandered up and down the sand hills while he had it figured out.”

Mr Shepherd said Stoker probably deliberately sought out the small coastal town so he could concentrate on his writing.

“He knew he wanted somewhere with refreshing air, on the east coast: in 1892 he took the train to Peterhead and searched the coast, and found just the place he was looking for,” he said.

In total, the author would make no fewer than 13 visits to Aberdeenshire.

Historian Mike Shepherd flipped through hotel registers, letters, newspaper clippings and interviews to learn about Stoker's month-long sojourn in Cruden Bay, home to the haunted 16th-century Slains Castle (pictured)

Historian Mike Shepherd flipped through hotel registers, letters, newspaper clippings and interviews to learn about Stoker’s month-long sojourn in Cruden Bay, home to the haunted 16th-century Slains Castle (pictured)

Cruden Bay (pictured) hosted Stoker and his wife several times

Cruden Bay (pictured) hosted Stoker and his wife several times

Although Cruden Bay is not mentioned in Dracula, the book contains clear references to it.

A fisherman in the novel uses the Doric language dialect local to the area, while nearby Slains Castle contains an octagonal chamber similar to the one described in Dracula’s castle in Transylvania.

After Stoker’s death in 1912, his widow contributed two recipes to a book compiled by parishioners in the village church.

One of these, a salad made up of ripe tomatoes and ripe plums dressed in vinegar, was called Dracula Salad.

The very first Festival of Darkness – exploring how the remote corner of Scotland shaped Dracula – will kick off later this month.

There will be screenings of famous film adaptations of the story, including the 1931 production of the first Dracula ‘talkie’.

The screening will be held at the village hall in Cruden Bay, where Stoker once gave a lecture, Mr Shepherd said.

In Stoker’s novel, Dracula tries to move from his home in Transylvania to England to find new victims.

Stoker's wife Florence (pictured) said in 1927: 'When he was working on Dracula, we were all afraid of him. It was on a lonely part of the east coast of Scotland, and he seemed to be obsessed with the spirit of the thing.

Stoker’s wife Florence (pictured) said in 1927: ‘When he was working on Dracula, we were all afraid of him. It was on a lonely part of the east coast of Scotland, and he seemed to be obsessed with the spirit of the thing.”

He teases Whitby before being hunted by a group led by Abraham Van Helsing.

The novel also stars English lawyer Jonathan Harker, who stays with the Earl during a business trip, but ends up being his prisoner.

The hotel where Stoker stayed and where much of the book was researched still stands and a plaque marks his time there.

Other famous film adaptations include a 1972 version starring Christopher Lee.

Gary Oldman also played the Count in the 1993 film Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

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