Fact and Fiction in Stoker's Dracula

The way in which Stoker dealt with the site of Castle Dracula, the identity of the Count and the time frame of the novel demonstrated that in Stoker's effort to construct Dracula, a powerful internal paradox was at work. On the one hand, the Irishman wanted to present a supernatural story as factual, allegedly based on contemporary diaries written by people directly involved in the events. In order to enhance the impression of authenticity, Stoker created a highly realistic backdrop —Transylvanian dishes and costumes, train tables, geographic descriptions and local vernacular included. But the more details he pictured in his novel, the more likely it became that readers and critics could find out where and when the action was supposed to take place—an action that never really happened. To eliminate the possibility of such an unmasking, Stoker was forced to remain fuzzy about critical details, such as the exact location of the Vampire's castle and Carfax residence, the place of the Scholomance and of Lucy's Hillingham, the name of the graveyard where she was buried, or the address of the pension where Mina and Lucy stayed in Whitby. He certainly did not want his readers to knock on the door of that pension, or of Hillingham, or of Dr Seward's asylum, and establish that his "authentic" story never had happened as described.


Of course, Stoker was not the only author who muddled details of his or her novel. But compared to other authors, the Irishman went to excessive lengths to create a convincing background for his narrative, and was very exact in his preparatory research.  The way in which he covered up the details that could give him away has confused Dracula scholars for decades. Professor em. Elizabeth Miller emphasized that Stoker was free to write whatever he wanted and to be misinformed about geography and history, as he was producing fiction, not an academic text book. Along the same lines, scholars such as Clive Leatherdale pointed out "mistakes" in Stoker's research, claiming, for example, that the Bistrița River in Moldavia could not have so many curves as described in Dracula, or that Stoker's reference to the 47th Parallel proved he had no precise geographical orientation. In fact, as I found out, Stoker's research was more accurate than that of Leatherdale!


The "fictional fact paradox" or "paradox of fact and fiction," as I shortnamed my theory, established a new paradigm in Dracula Studies, replacing the Millerian Paradigm that had dominated the years 1995-2010. You will find it explained in more detail in several of my essays.



  • "Bram Stoker’s Vampire TrapVlad the Impaler and his Nameless Double." Extended version of the essay added to The Ultimate Dracula. Linkoeping University Electronic Press, Sweden. Published on 19 March 2012. PDF file available via http://ep.liu.se/ea/cis/2012/002/.
  • "Fact & Fiction in Bram Stoker’s Dracula—Time for a New Paradigm." Special 2013 Christmas issue of Letter from Castle Dracula, the official news bulletin of The Transylvanian Society of Dracula, pages 2-5. Published on 22 December 2013.
  • "Dracula’s Truth Claim and its Consequences." Journal of Dracula Studies, ISSN 11492-708X. Volume 16 (2014), pages 53-80. Published in October 2014.