Drakula: The first foreign translation

Cover of the 1898 Hungarian book edition, Drakula
Cover of the 1898 Hungarian book edition, Drakula

Since Richard Dalby published a translation of the Icelandic preface to Makt myrkranna in his Bram Stoker Omnibus in 1986, the Icelandic book edition of 1901 was believed to be the first foreign translation of Dracula ever. But as I found out at the start of 2014, the story had been published in the Reykjavik newspaper Fjallkonan already, starting on 13 January 1900. Moreover, in 2010, Professor Jenő Farkas of University Eötvös Loránd, Budapest, had pointed out that the Hungarians had been earlier: already in 1898, a Hungarian translation had been released, under the title Drakula. While my colleague Simone Berni from Pisa managed to find a deposit copy of the extremely rare book in the Hungarian National Library, in 2016, I unearthed the original newspaper serialization in Budapesti Hírlap that had started on 1 January 1898.


After fruitlessly trying to find out how Dracula had ended up in Iceland, I was curious to learn how Stoker's story had come to Hungary. For this question, Jenő Farkas already had an answer: in an interview in 2013, he had stated that the Budapest translator and newspaper publisher, Jenő Rakósi, must have spotted Stoker's book on a Christmas Book Fair in London, where it stood apart because of its conspicious yellow covera color reserved for scandalous erotic material.


Rakósi's announcement in Budapesti Hírlap of December 1897 indeed stated that Stoker's novel had been "the sensation of the Christmas book market in London." But there is no certainty that Rakósi meant a concrete event, or rather referred to the "market" as an abstract phenomenon. I found and translated a further comment by Rakósi, in which he claimed that the same novel also had been the "sensation of the American book market"—at a time that Dracula had not even been released in the US! Moreover, he repeatedly referred to Bram Stoker as an "American writer." This led me to believe that the Hungarian publisher was not very familiar with Bram Stoker's life and work, and had not travelled to London during Christmas 1897 to pick up a new novel he could serialize in his newspaper.



  • “'Buda-Pesth seems a wonderful place'—How a Hungarian newspaperman produced Dracula’s very first translation and serialisation." Letter from Castle Dracula, the official news bulletin of The Transylvanian Society of Dracula, Hungary special. Published on 30 June 2016.