British and Irish Literature Dracula
Jarlath Killeen
  • LAST REVIEWED: 27 September 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 September 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846719-0104


“I have more. My revenge has just begun! I spread it over centuries and time is on my side” (Count Dracula, Bram Stoker, Dracula, ed. Maurice Hindle [London: Penguin, 2003], p. 326). The Count appears to be right. In a study of the afterlife of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol (1843), the critic Paul Davis argued that the story of Scrooge “began as a text and became a culture-text” (The Life and Times of Ebenezer Scrooge [New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992], p. 5). Although Bram Stoker’s Dracula was relatively well received when first published by Archibald Constable and Company in 1897, it would have been impossible at that stage to imagine the global impact this modestly ambitious novel, from a man best known as the genial and efficient manager of the great actor Henry Irving, would have in the 20th and now 21st centuries. Not only is Dracula the best-known vampire of them all (and there has been a veritable vampire “craze” since the 18th century), but he is also, in fact, one of the most recognizable characters in literary history—and the one most often portrayed in films, bar none (and that is not counting his appearance in other media). Along with Scrooge, Sherlock Holmes, and Frankenstein (although the latter is as often mistaken for his creation), Count Dracula has passed far beyond the pages of Stoker’s novel and can now claim mythic status. That this status is in large part due to the mesmeric attraction of the Transylvanian bloodsucker for screenwriters and cinema audiences—and even though most who recognize Dracula’s name have never read the novel in which he first appeared and have never heard of Bram Stoker—should not detract from the cultural significance of the text or author. The book itself has never been out of print and is available in a bewildering variety of versions, from mass-market paperbacks to collector’s editions. Given the enormous popular cultural presence of Dracula, though, it took until the 1970s for serious, scholarly attention to be directed toward the vampire, though the academics were quick to catch up. Indeed, since the publication of Florescu and McNally’s In Search of Dracula (Florescu and McNally 1972, cited under Preliminary Material), those two intrepid adventurers have been joined by an extraordinary number of commentators, critics, and scholars and by an enormous body of secondary material circling around a novel that has moved from the academic margins to the center in a very brief space of time.


No standard scholarly edition of Dracula exists as of the early 21st century, nor is there any standard scholarly work by Bram Stoker, which is a significant problem for those interested in serious work in either Dracula or Stoker studies. Scholars should start with the first edition of Dracula (Stoker 1897) and Stoker’s own abridgement published in 1901. However, the novel is very well served by several excellent scholar- and student-friendly editions that can be highly recommended. For the student, the editions by Hughes and Mason (Stoker 2007), Auerbach and Skal (Stoker 1997), and Byron (Stoker 2000) are the most useful, contain the most accurate information and the most relevant extra material (critical essays, contemporary reviews, bibliographies, and chronologies), and should be consulted first. A number of other editions are idiosyncratic in terms of annotation and editing and reflect the interests of the editors involved. Dracula has attracted a rather unique brand of scholar-fan, and many of them have invested a huge amount of time and energy in researching the novel, and indeed anything related to the novel. Readers need to be wary of the ideological and methodological disagreements that differentiate these editions from each other. The editions by Leatherdale (Stoker 1998) and Wolf (Stoker 1993) are good examples of this idiosyncrasy. Warnings aside, though, these divergences often make the various editions hugely entertaining as well as educational. The edition edited by Wilson (Stoker 1983), who disputes the status of both Stoker and his novel, is probably still considered the most provocative. For the reader who is knowledgeable about the history of Dracula criticism and the various controversies that have enlivened the critical conversation, reading through the different kinds of annotations in these various editions is of great assistance in understanding the specific sites of dispute in the text itself and is crucial to being able to contribute constructively to the arguments.

  • Stoker, Bram. Dracula. London: Constable, 1897.

    The “first” edition, and given the gap where a standard scholarly edition should be, this is usually the starting point for scholars of the novel—although it turns out that the publisher Hutchinson published a “Colonial” edition for the British colonies approximately seven weeks after Constable’s edition.

  • Stoker, Bram. Dracula. With introduction by A. N. Wilson. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983.

    The first edition of the Oxford World’s Classic Dracula, of interest now only for the introduction penned by A. N. Wilson, a fine popular historian and controversialist, who rightly enough pointed out that Stoker was not a great writer, but who misguidedly attempted to undermine Dracula’s “classic” status on that basis. Useful in starting a row in a classroom of literature students.

  • Stoker, Bram. The Essential Dracula. Edited by Leonard Wolf with notes, bibliographies, and filmography, revised in collaboration with Roxana Stuart. New York: Plume, 1993.

    No longer essential, but still entertaining and often very quirky, with illustrations and many annotations (some of which threaten to overwhelm the text itself). Also includes “Dracula’s Guest.”

  • Stoker, Bram. Dracula: The Rare Text of 1901. Foreword by Robert Eighteen-Bisang, Introduction by Raymond T. McNally. White Rock, BC: Transylvania, 1994.

    This 1901 abridged edition is important because the abridgement was carried out by Stoker himself. The abridgement is considered by many scholars as a good indication of the parts of the novel that Stoker thought the most important (interestingly, the abridgement leaves out many of the lines and scenes that critics have focused on in discussions of Dracula).

  • Stoker, Bram. Dracula: Authoritative Text, Contexts, Reviews and Reactions, Dramatic and Film Variations, Criticism. Edited by Nina Auerbach and David J. Skal. New York: W. W. Norton, 1997.

    An excellent edition, aimed at students, that includes extracts from scholarly and critical articles for readers to sample and get started on their own studies of the novel. Unsurprisingly, given Skal’s interests, contains very good information on the cultural afterlife of the novel in cinema. This can be highly recommended.

  • Stoker, Bram. Bram Stoker’s Dracula Unearthed. Annotated and edited by Clive Leatherdale. Westcliff-on-Sea, UK: Desert Island, 1998.

    This edition was released by the publisher that has built its catalogue on Stoker and Dracula and stuck with the author even when he was a critically marginalized figure. The edition itself is of interest mostly for Leatherdale’s many annotations and the checklist of Stoker’s sources.

  • Stoker, Bram. Dracula. Edited by Glennis Byron. Peterborough, ON: Broadview, 2000.

    Broadview is an innovative and important publisher in the field of Gothic and horror studies. It always produces interesting editions, and this is no exception. Byron, a very reputable scholar, provides a good introduction, and the appendixes contain a great deal of thinking matter for scholars and students.

  • Stoker, Bram. Dracula. Edited by William Hughes and Diane Mason. Bath, UK: Artswork, 2007.

    A very useful edition for students—and aimed explicitly at them—that provides a helpful chronology of Stoker’s life and a good survey of the existing criticism. In a crowded field, this is one of two editions recommended for students.

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