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Dracula and Frankenstein Do NOT Share a Common Origin

Ah, Halloween, that time of year when spooky programming fare fills the airwaves. Lots of documentary-type shows featuring famous ghost, monsters, and villains of Fiction and History. I caught one the other night, implying, as I have heard before, that the same “haunted summer” of 1816 spawned the creation of both Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster. It isn’t true. While Mary Shelley, author of FRANKENSTEIN, did vacation in 1816 at Villa Diodati on Lake Geneva with future husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, and physician John Polidori, and the three of them did have a contest to see who could concoct the most frightful ghost story, and Polidori did go on to write his novella THE VAMPYRE (based on a work begun by Lord Byron), *and* the villain of that piece, Lord Ruthven, does indeed share some of the same attributes as Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula, the assertion that Dracula is merely Ruthven redressed is blatantly false.

Putting aside the historical inspiration for Count Dracula, which came via a real-life monster of the same name, Stoker’s Count Dracula owes as much to Varney of the Penny Dreadfuls and Sheridan Le Fanu’s CARMILLA as he does to Polidori’s Ruthven. History would have to wait until the invention of cinema for Frankenstein and Dracula to meet in *ahem* reel life.

TheCheezman • November 11, 2018

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