If you don’t have access to ShowTime and you’ve been wondering what Penny Dreadful is all about, let me clue you in. I enjoy the show and recommend it. Ethan Chandler a Wild Bill Cody type is hired by Sir Malcolm Murray and Vanessa Ives to find and rescue his daughter, Mina Hunter, kidnapped by Dracula. Dr. Frankenstein teams up with them as well. And Dorian Gray is added to the mix.
This is my third post for Halloween month, October, so it’s Bram Stoker and Dracula’s turn. It is not a proven fact but it has been reported by many Stoker biographers that he died of syphilis. It was a disease that plagued many in the Victorian and Edwardian periods. When dracula attacks someone he infects them with vampirism and it’s easy to see the possible connection with a disease like syphilis. It’s not hard to discern his guilt and concern over possibly infecting his wife and also in being unfaithful to a woman he loved. Bram Stoker married actress Florence Balcombe in 1878. She’d previously been engaged to Oscar Wilde. From all accounts they had a strong marriage and shared a deep love for each other. We can see those intense emotions in Jonathan’s feelings for Mina.
Some interesting tidbits on Bram Stoker s he was Irish, while Dracula is Eastern European For that reason, you may not have noticed the author’s Celtic roots showing in the story but I assure you they are there. It is said he actually wrote his first draft of Dracula while he was a guest at Slains. The Slain castle in Aberdeenshire Scotland is often considered an inspiration for Dracula’s castle in the book.
On his mother’s side Bram Stoker happened to be a direct descendent of ’Manus O’Donnell (Manus ‘the Magnificent. He was an Irish clan leader who led a rebellion against Henry VIII in the 16th century. Bram Stoker drew on his lineage to write of a man with a great past as a warrior and ruler now displaced by the passage of history, living in the shadows, in other words it is also the story of Bram Stoker’s ancestry.
It has been said that as a little boy in Ireland Bram Stoker’s mother often told him stories including horror stories. They must have included Irish folk lore.There are many tales of dark vampiric fey in Celtic mythology. These dark fey are often extremely beautiful and seductive. The vampiric fey, the baobhan sith, always roamed together as sisters. In Dracula, Bram Stoker’s description of the three sisters in the vampire’s castle seems similar to dark Celtic fey.
Two were dark, and had high aquiline noses, like the Count, and great dark, piercing eyes that seemed to be almost red when contrasted with the pale yellow moon. The other was fair, as fair as can be, with great wavy masses of golden hair and eyes like pale sapphires. I seemed somehow to know her face, and to know it in connection with some dreamy fear, but I could not recollect at the moment how or where. All three had brilliant white teeth that shone like pearls against the ruby of their voluptuous lips. There was something about them that made me uneasy, some longing and at the same time some deadly fear. I felt in my heart a wicked, burning desire that they would kiss me with those red lips. It is not good to note this down, lest some day it should meet Mina’s eyes and cause her pain; but it is the truth. They whispered together, and then they all three laughed—such a silvery, musical laugh, but as hard as though the sound never could have come through the softness of human lips. It was like the intolerable, tingling sweetness of water-glasses when played on by a cunning hand. The fair girl shook her head coquettishly, and the other two urged her on. One said:—
“Go on! You are first, and we shall follow; yours is the right to begin.” The other added:—
“He is young and strong; there are kisses for us all.”
Because authors Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, and Oscar Wilde pulled deep from within and wrote emotion and human pain into their stories we can connect with the horrors they created. We feel what the monsters feel. We can see bits of ourselves in these monsters …and that is what makes them scariest of all.
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Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 22 published books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, and happy endings. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.