How One Woman Inspired ‘Dracula’: The Hunt For Emily Gerard

Bram Stoker didn’t write ‘Dracula’ without a little research! His great-grandnephew is determined to uncover more about a forgotten inspiration.

Book Culture Book News Recommendations Thriller & Mystery

Have you ever wondered about the marvel of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and how he created such a timeless horror story? Well, here’s the truth: he had some help. Here’s what we know about the Scotswoman who inspired the tale, Emily Gerard.

Dacre Stoker’s Hunt

Dacre Stoker, the great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker, recently decided to begin a hunt for the Scottish author. After uncovering an interview where Bram Stoker gives credit to Emily Gerard for inspiring his story, Dacre Stoker decided to dig a bit deeper. It’s been well-known for a while that Gerard influenced Bram Stoker’s writings. However, Dacre Stoker is on a mission to discover just how far her influence goes, and what she was like in her life.

Dacre Stoker made visits to both the Rosenbach Museum in Philadelphia and a trip to Scotland, in attempts to further his research. On his trips, he discovered a bust of Gerard’s mother in a museum and found their home address in Lanarkshire. While he hasn’t uncovered much more yet, he hopes to discover more of the history.


How Emily Influenced Bram Stoker’s Dracula

So what did Gerard write that was so influential to Dracula? Well, Dacre Stoker theorizes that Gerard was the first to use the word “nosferatu” which is the Romanian word for vampire. “Nosferatu” later appeared in Bram Stoker’s writings as well. Similarly, she placed vampires within Transylvania, while in early drafts Bram Stoker placed them in Austria. Plus, Gerard established the weaknesses of a vampire— burning, garlic, and cutting off their heads— which Bram Stoker also uses.

Gerard was incredibly detailed in her accounts. So detailed, that she’s written two books devoted to Transylvanian myths and lore, both of which can still be bought today. If you’re in the market for a copy of Dracula, it’s well worth your time to pick up Transylvanian Superstitions and The Land Beyond the Forest: Facts, Figures, and Fancies from Transylvania as well. It’s theorized that both of these stories are what inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Her books are interesting reads, regardless of their relation to Dracula.

Emily Gerard’s Works and Life

Besides creating the foundations for one of the most popular vampire stories of all time, Gerard had other pursuits. She wrote multiple joint novels with her sister, all of which are published under the pseudonym E. D. Gerard. If you want to read their work, but would rather avoid the vampires, check out The Waters of Hercules which captures the mysteriousness of Transylvania from a different approach. Many of her works are buried under the success of Dracula, but for readers interested in Transylvania it’s worth digging up some of the forgotten stories.

When Gerard wasn’t writing, she was making friends with other authors. Bram Stoker wasn’t the only famous author she influenced. Gerard also reached out to Mark Twain, and the two became close friends. So much so that Gerard dedicated her book The Extermination of Love to him. Gerard not only had a passion for writing but also for connecting with other authors.

Gerard was a woman full of adventure and creative spirit. But we’ll have to wait and see if Dacre Stoker can uncover more about the prolific writer and her life.

It’s always exciting to learn more about classic stories. If you’re a big fan of classics, check out another article covering them here!