Scotland's links to Dracula author Bram Stoker market to celebrate book's 125th anniversary

VisitScotland is celebrating Scotland’s links to Dracula and its author Bram Stoker to mark the horror vampire novel’s 125th anniversary.

By Stephen Wilkie
Friday, 27th May 2022, 4:55 am

Scotland is said to have played a crucial role in the creation of the classic story with Stoker holidaying north of the border as he wrote it.

Visitors and locals alike are being encouraged to indulge in some literary tourism and follow in Stoker’s footsteps.

Locations in Edinburgh, the Borders and Glasgow all have links to Stoker – but the striking Slains Castle, sitting on cliff tops in Aberdeenshire, that is best known for its connection to the story.

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A unique octagon-shaped room in Slains Castle features in Dracula's castle in Stoker's horror novel Pic: VisitScotland/Damian Shields

The crumbling pile near Cruden Bay is believed to have inspired Dracula’s castle, mirrored by a unique octagon-shaped room described in the book.

Stoker began writing Dracula – which was published in 1897 - while staying at the nearby Kilmarnock Arms Hotel, with his signatures from its guestbook in 1894 and 1895 surviving to this day.

The 125th anniversary of Dracula is being marked during Scotland’s Year of Stories which celebrates and promotes the wealth of stories inspired by, written, or created in Scotland.

Jenni Steele, VisitScotland Film and Creative Industries Manager, said: “This anniversary is a fantastic opportunity to highlight Scotland’s connections to this world-renowned book and character.

Bram Stoker wrote much of Dracula while staying at Cruden Bay Pic: Historic Environment Scotland

“Dracula holds such a sense of intrigue and mystery, so it is not surprising that Bram Stoker’s writing is said to have been influenced by the country's magical landscapes and locations while on his travels.”

Dacre Stoker, great grandnephew of Bram Stoker, said: “The rich culture and heritage clearly left its impact on Bram; from the ruins of Slains Castle clearly inspiring the gothic setting of Dracula’s castle, to the vast landscape of Aberdeenshire’s coast to his links to Edinburgh and the Borders, including his friendships with writers such as Arthur Conan Doyle.

“Scotland has inspired many writers and artists for centuries and its stories and landscapes hopefully will continue to inspire many more to come.”

It is believed Bram Stoker supported the staging of plays at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow and that the name of RM Renfield, the character featured in the novel, was taken from the city’s Renfield Street.

Classic vampire: Christopher Lee as Dracula in the 1958 movie

Before writing Dracula, Bram Stoker worked as a theatre manager at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh.

There is said to be a ‘vampire child’ who was born in Glamis Castle in Angus – birthplace of the late Queen Mother – and kept in a secret room. Another vampire legend tells of a woman who worked in the castle and was caught drinking blood from a body and was punished by being walled up alive in a secret room.

Reportedly, during the 12th century an unpopular Melrose Abbey rose from his tomb, wailing and drinking the blood of the nuns. One night, as the undead priest rose again, the other priests beheaded him, cremated him and scattered his ashes to the wind.

A local story in Blair Atholl, Perthshire, describes how two poachers were attacked by a blood sucking creature while they slept in a bothy near Glen Tilt. The pair fought the creature off after which it flew away into the night or accounts claim it simply vanished.

The twilight skies give Slains Castle an even eerier look Pic: Damian Shields

The final connection is Emily Gerard, an author born in Jedburgh and who later lived in Airdrie. She was the first person to bring the word "nosferatu" or "vampire" into use in western Europe. Her collection of Transylvanian myths and legends are known to have influenced Stoker.

For more information about Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022 visit: https://www.visitscotland.com/about/themed-years/stories/