Bram Stoker's descendant to visit Scotland's Dracula village

A descendant of Bram Stoker is to travel to Scotland for the first time next month to visit the stretch of North East coastline which inspired his ancestor's classic horror tale Dracula.

Monday, 30th October 2017, 3:56 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 8:38 am
Slains Castle near Cruden Bay inspired in Bram Stoker's Dracula. PIC: Contributed.

Dacre Stoker, the great grand-nephew of the writer, will visit Cruden Bay and Slains Castle, a dramatic clifftop pile that overlook the North Sea.

Its distinctive floor plan was mentioned in Dracula with the castle used as a setting in at least five of Stoker’s novels, according to research.

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One of Stoker's stays at the Kilmarnock Arms Hotel recorded in the guest book. He wrote the first chapters of the book at the hotel in 1895. PIC: Contributed.

Mr Stoker, who has written a prequel to Dracula which is due to be made into a Hollywood film, will also deliver a talk in the Kilmarnock Arms Hotel in the village where his ancestor wrote several early chapters of the book in 1895. His signature can still be found in the guest book.

Mr Stoker, who lives in the US, will be welcomed to Cruden Bay by Mike Shepherd of the Port Errol Heritage Group which mounted an exhibition this year on Stoker’s links to Cruden Bay.

Mr Shepherd, who is writing a book on Stoker’s North East connections, said: “Around the time of the exhibition I got in touch with him and he was intrigued about the exhibition. I offered to show him round and he has taken me up on the offer.

One of Stoker's stays at the Kilmarnock Arms Hotel recorded in the guest book. He wrote the first chapters of the book at the hotel in 1895. PIC: Contributed.

“It is very appropriate that he will be speaking at the Kilmarnock Arms Hotel as that is not only where Stoker stayed but wrote the first chapters of Dracula.”

Stoker came across Cruden Bay on a walking tour in 1893 and in his own words, fell in love with the place. He returned year after year until 1910, two years before his death.

Stoker, who was born in Dublin and worked as the manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London, set two other stories in the village - The Watter’s Mou’ and The Mystery of the Sea - with much of the dialogue written in Doric.

Dacre Stoker’s prequel, co-written by JD Barker, is due out next year 1868.

It detail the encounters of a young Bram with some of the creatures he would later write about. It will be published on both sides of the Atlantic with the film rights sold to Paramount.

Mr Stoker will speak at the Kilmarnock Arms Hotel on Monday, November 13 at 7pm.

on his ancestor at the kilmar on the 13th November, the Aberdeenshire village where his ancestor wrote Dracula.

He will spend two days here and I will be showing him the various locations associated with the author (I live in Cruden Bay and I’m completing a book about Bram Stoker’s time here). On Monday 13th November (7pm) he will be giving a talk ‘Stoker on Stoker’, a multimedia presentation about his famous ancestor. This will be held in the Kilmarnock Arms hotel, appropriately enough where Bram Stoker wrote the early chapters of Dracula in 1895. It will be run in conjunction with the Port Erroll Heritage Group.

Bram Stoker first visit to Cruden Bay (then called Port Erroll) was in 1893. As he wrote: ‘When I first saw the place I fell in love with it’. He returned for his monthly holiday most years up until 1910. He was a part-time author and his August visit to Aberdeenshire was when he wrote the greater part of his books.

Much of Dracula was written there in 1895 and 1896 (it was published 1897). When the early chapters of Dracula were written here in 1895, his family became upset at the author’s frightening behaviour. Normally a mild-mannered Irishman, rather jolly and full of jokes, Bram entered into the dark spirit of his novel while writing it. According to his wife Florence when he wrote his books, ‘he became the person he was writing about and behaved very strangely’. Bram Stoker stormed up and down Cruden Bay beach and sat on the rocks for hours agonising over his new novel. It’s possibly when he noticed, as he would write later, that Cruden Bay looked like a mouth with the rocky promontories at either end resembling teeth. Some of the rocks ‘seemed like fangs rising from the deep water’ (see my attached photo).

The nearby Slains Castle provided inspiration while he wrote Dracula. It was usually visible from his favourite writing spots. Although the novel had already been planned in detail before Bram Stoker visited Cruden Bay and Castle Dracula identified as integral to the plot, Slains Castle provided inspiration during the writing phase. In particular, Bram Stoker used the floor plan for the castle in the novel. A distinctive small octagonal room in Slains Castle appears in Dracula. Mike Shepherd Port Erroll Heritage Group.

Information provided by Dacre Stoker:

‘A native of Montreal, Canada, Dacre taught Physical Education and Sciences for twenty-two years, in both Canada and the U.S. He has participated in the sport of Modern Pentathlon as an athlete and a coach at the international and Olympic levels for Canada for 12 years. He recently coached Camden Riviere USA to a World Championship in Real Tennis.

Dacre Stoker’s compelling and informative performance, Stoker on Stoker, the Mysteries Behind the Writing of Dracula, weaves together the details of Dracula’s history with Stoker family lore, and Bram Stoker’s life in Dublin and London, then separates fact from popular fiction, revealing the truth about all things Stoker and Dracula. Customized to appeal to high school and university groups, Gothic scholars, vampire fans, or history buffs, Stoker on Stoker explores the issues behind the mysteries that have baffled Dracula scholars and fans since the book’s publication in 1897. Dacre has consulted and appeared in recent film documentaries about vampires in literature and popular culture.

Dacre is the great grand-nephew of Bram Stoker and the best-selling co-author of Dracula the Un-Dead (Dutton, 2009), the official Stoker family endorsed sequel to Dracula. Dacre is also the co-editor (with Elizabeth Miller) of The Lost Journal of Bram Stoker: The Dublin Years (Robson Press, 2012).

It has recently been announced that Paramount has secured, with the agreement of the Stoker Family estate, the rights for making of a new film about the new book recently completed, soon to be published and written by Dacre Stoker and JD Barker. The title is ‘Dracul’.

He currently hosts tours to Transylvania to explore both the life and times of the historic Vlad Dracula lll and also the locations where Bram Stoker set his famous novel.