Dracula Under Fire
The relationship between Vlad Dracula and Bram Stoker's vampire was solidified in 1972 by the publication of In Search of Dracula, written by Raymond McNally and Radu Florescu, two respected history professors at Boston College in Massachusetts. McNally and Florescu's work has been a staple of Dracula aficionados for over thirty-five years and continues to influence the perceptions of both scholastic authorities and casual researchers alike. Since the book first came out, both authors have revised their early findings and perhaps softened what at first appeared to be conclusive evidence that Stoker based the vampire Dracula directly on the legends of Vlad Dracula. There's no question that the pair of historical detectives changed public perception of Dracula's heritage and conception, and brought the real Vlad Dracula into the light of public interest and scrutiny.
The Flicker of Controversy
McNally and Florescu were hardly the first researchers to make a link between the two Draculas. Very likely, the first scholar to make that connection was University of West Virginia professor, Bacil F. Kirtley, in 1956. A renowned anthropologist, folklorist, and historian, Kirtley wrote a seminal essay describing one of the earliest chronicles of Vlad Dracula, found in the Kirril-Belozersk monastery (now spelled, Kirillo-Belozersky) in northern Russia. Dated to 1490, the essay is a copy of the original chronicle penned by Russian Orthodox monks in 1486 — just ten years after Vlad Dracula's death. This historical document is known to have been copied and circulated widely among eastern European monasteries and eventually made its way into Germany. It appears to be the primary source of many of the horrific legends — often repeated as fact — that have dogged Vlad Dracula throughout the centuries. Along with Kirtley's early studies in 1956, Florescu and McNally were in part inspired by the 1962 publication of Stoker's first biographer, Harry Ludlum, who made the same connection in his long out-of-print book A Biography of Dracula: The Life Story of Bram Stoker.
Bram Stoker discovered the book An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, from which he took the name, “Dracula,” at the library in Whitby, England. A small fishing village on the Esk River near the North Sea, Whitby became a favorite vacation retreat during the years Stoker worked on his famous novel. The ruins of an ancient stone abbey with its towering facades, and St. Mary's Cathedral — which both loom over the town — are believed to have helped inspire Stoker's vivid architectural descriptions.