First US serial in Chicago Inter Ocean

For decades, Dracula experts, puzzled by an advertisement in the New York Times of 7 October 1899, have been searching for an early American serialization of Dracula. The ad, placed by Doubleday & McClure, Stoker’s first U.S. publisher, stated that Dracula had “much success in England, and as a serial in America.” In The Forgotten Writings of Bram Stoker (2012), David Skal's discovery of such a serialization was announced: Stoker’s novel had been published in weekly installments in the Charlotte Daily Observer from July 16, 1899 till December 10, 1899 under the title “Dracula: A Strong Story of the Vampire.” According to John Edgar Browning, Dracula had also been serialized under the title “The Vampire” in the morning and Sunday editions of the Boston Advertiser of May 1921. Additionally, the website of the Bram Stoker Estate revealed that Dracula had been printed in daily episodes in the Washington Times from September 13, 1917, till January 21, 1918.


On 26 April 2017,  while trying to find out more about the publicity Dracula had raised in the US, I spotted an article in an American newspaper archive. It seemed to be about a Dracula musical performed at an American high school in summer 1898—which would be quite a scoop, obviously. It turned out that the newspaper had been indexed incorrectly—it was from February 1979, not from July 1898. But just a few clicks away, I found a serialization of Dracula in the Chicago newspaper Inter Ocean that obviously predated the one in the Charlotte Daily Observer by more than two months. The serialization was announced on May 3, 4, 5 and 6, 1899, then ran daily from 7 May 7 till 4 June 1899, under the title The Strange Story of Dracula; a Tale of Thrilling Adventures, Mystery and Romance. The caption appearing under each title heading read  “Copyright, 1897, by the Author,”  which made it improbable that the text had been pirated.


To prepare my report for the online magazine, I looked deeper into Bram Stoker's connection with Chicago, well documented by his biography of Henry Irving, by letters and by countless newspaper articles. Together with Irving, Ellen Terry and the rest of the Lyceum Theatre troupe, Bram toured especially the north of the U.S. many times, Chicago being an important venue.


As a bonus, I found a still earlier advertisement (New York Times, 2 Sept. 1899), mentioning that Dracula had been serialized in the U.S. and England, and a short note indicating that Stoker received an offer for the dramatization of his novel as early as December 1899, when Dracula had just come out in the U.S.