It is widely acknowledged that Whitby played a starring role in the birth of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but now it is being claimed a small village in Scotland may have provided the inception of the novel.
A member of the heritage group in Port Erroll, now Cruden Bay, claims research shows that Bram was inspired by the village and wrote the first few chapters of Dracula there.
He told BBC Scotland: “As early as 1890, he already had the plot and characters worked out but what I think happened is that he wanted to write Dracula as a popular book.
“But he was worried about the reputational issues in producing what was for its time increasing the horror ratchet of novels.
“So basically he was blocked for several years, in my opinion, and that changed when he came to Cruden Bay.
“Port Erroll fired up the boiler - it was the spark that got him going.”
The links between Stoker and the small Scottish village have been acknowledged by his great grand nephew, Dacre Stoker, who was delivering a lecture there this week, in the building where his relative once stayed.
Bram Stoker’s links to Whitby are well documented. In July 1890 he arrived at Mrs Veazey’s guesthouse at 6 Royal Crescent. According to English heritage: “Although Stoker was to spend six more years on his novel before it was published, researching the landscapes and customs of Transylvania, the name of his villain and some of the novel’s most dramatic scenes were inspired by his holiday in Whitby.”
It is said that Stoker read a book in the public library about a 15th-century prince called Vlad Tepes, who was known as Dracula. While staying in Whitby, Stoker also discovered a Russian ship that had been wrecked on Tate Hill beach five years earlier called the Dmitry, from Narva. This was to become the Demeter from Varna - the ship that carries Dracula to Whitby. The Dracula affiliation continues to this day, not least in the Gothic festivals which take place twice a year.