Death and Immortality
Bram Stoker's own health began failing in 1905 after he suffered a stroke and developed a long-term and malicious kidney disease. With Florence at his side, Stoker's final novel, The Lair of the White Worm, was published in 1911, a year before he passed away. Florence retained the copyrights to her husband's work and continued receiving a very modest income from book royalties. But it wasn't until a German filmmaker, Friedrich Murnau, made the film, Nosferatu, in 1922 as an unauthorized adaptation of Dracula that Stoker's novel would get noticed. Florence Stoker's lawsuit against the makers of Nosferatu triggered enormous interest in a public who wanted to know what all the legal fuss was about (see Chapter 14). Within a decade, Dracula would become the standard by which horror fiction is measured, and it has never been out of print since its first publication. The tragedy is that Bram Stoker was never able to appreciate that his masterwork of surreal immortality would itself become immortal.
What must now be investigated is the hotly debated legend of what many claim is the “real” Dracula, or what experts more commonly realize as the true-life men whose combined exploits Bram Stoker is thought to have used as inspiration for creating his legendary monster — Prince Vlad Dracul and his notorious son, Vlad the Impaler. Where did these legends emanate? How did Stoker allegedly mold his black devil after two of Romania's legendary leaders and the exploits leading to their immortality in the annals of European history? And more importantly, what's the real story behind these two notorious historical figures?