In a scene befitting any classic Hammer horror film, Dracula author Bram Stoker's personal diary was discovered at a home on the Isle of Wight in England. Loaded with cryptic notes, thoughts and poems, it's an intimate glimpse into the mind of the man who created the beloved Transylvanian bloodsucker.
Passed down by the Stoker family to relative Noel Dobbs, the thin notebook, signed "Abraham Stoker," contains 305 separate entries on local folklore, creative urges and witty jokes. Many entries are pages in length; others are mere sentences. These enlightening inspirations will be published next March in The Lost Journal, by Stoker's great-grand nephew, Dacre Stoker. The event will coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Irish author's death.
"When I saw it, I was amazed," Dacre Stoker said in an interview with CNN. "I thought, 'The Holy Grail! We've found it!' There is so little written by Bram about Bram. Family, scholars and hard-core fans -- so many people have wanted to know what made the man who wrote Dracula tick. And here we had a major set of clues."
Dacre Stoker worked with scholars to annotate the new book, which blossoms with gems that would later become many of Stoker's stories. The journal begins in 1871, when Stoker was in his early 20s working at Dublin Castle. It concludes in 1881, with an entry that would become part of the future Renfield character:
"I once knew a boy who put so many flies into a bottle that they had not room to die."
This musing was all a decade before Stoker learned the history of Vlad the Impaler, the sadistic 15th-century Walachian prince who was the main inspiration for his iconic Count Dracula character.
Another note hints at his fascination with children:
"Palace of Fairy Queen. Child goes to sleep & palace grows -- sky changes into blue silk curtains etc."
The dreams of children appear in several Stoker stories in Under the Sunset, a collection of dark tales that touch on the boundaries between reality and imagination.
"Bram had a troubled childhood," Dacre Stoker said. "He was very lonely and thought about death a lot during seven years that he was just a boy and struggling through an undiagnosed illness."
The art of journaling and letter-writing, something near-extinct today, is the illuminating heart of 1897's Dracula. The novel itself has no central narrator but instead is written in the epistolary form, comprised using letters, diary pages and journal entries of the main characters except Dracula himself, calling into question the unreliable nature of personal accounts.
"Bram traveled an unusual amount for the time that he lived," Dacre Stoker said. "He was curious. He loved to ask those questions: What is real and what is myth, and where do they meet? What is stronger, science or myth?"
Stoker died in 1912, long before Hollywood immortalized his Prince of Darkness and spawned the rabid wave of vampirism enjoyed today. What would the brooding Irishman think of the cult of bloodsuckers invading books, comics, TV and film in the 21st century? Would he be a passionate follower of the angst-filled exploits of Bella and Edward or just yawn and raise another pint of Guinness?