These Literary Monsters Were Actually Real People

Halloween is coming up, which means we’re even more intrigued (than usual) by literary monsters. There’s a special, albeit weird, feeling when a monstrous literary character is inspired by real people, so we’ve gone and made a list for your enjoyment.

P.S. If you haven’t taken our quiz to find out what monster you are, you should! 


1) Frankenstein’s Monster 

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Giovanni Aldini was a scientist in London. In 1803, he attempted to bring the deceased body of a criminal back to life through electric shock. It seemed to jerk awake and take a sharp breath, but the battery died and the body went back to being a corpse. That, my friends, is the inspiration for Frankenstein by Mary Shelley


2) The Headless Horseman 

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The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving is a classic favorite ghost story. It’s even more popular around this time of year. Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman are notorious figures in American literature. There was in fact, an actual headless horseman! During the Revolutionary War, a Hessian soldier fighting for the British, was decapitated by a cannon that also killed his horse. He was buried only a few miles away from Sleepy Hollow on Merritt Hill. 


3) Dr. Hyde 

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Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde essentially based his story on his own experiences. He rewrote the entire story in about 6 days after his wife offered some criticism. How? He took a crap load of cocaine. The story is about Dr. Jekyll who takes a drug that turns him into another person. Stevenson may have been prescribed the cocaine in connection with his tuberculosis and he dreamt up the premise of the book, so in reality, Stevenson was the inspiration for his own story.


4) Count Dracula

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Vlad the Impaler was a Transylvania prince that liked to impale his victims when he killed them. He was nicknamed “Dracula” which means “son of the devil or dragon” in Romanian (his father’s name was Vlad Dracul). Airbnb is running a contest to spend Halloween night in a castle in Romania that is known as Dracula’s castle. Bram Stoker‘s classic, Dracula is based on Vlad’s name and location. The vampire phenomenon continues. 


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