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Bram Stoker, Dracula and Whitby

In 1890 author Bram Stoker visited Whitby for his annual summer holiday. A few months earlier he had had an idea to write a novel about a vampire nobleman and while he was in the town he met local people and heard tales of eerie shipwrecks and ghostly hounds. He and his family made their home here for another 6 years.

Many of Whitby’s locations, characters and stories found their way into his famous Gothic novel, Dracula. For example, he came across the name Dracula in the local library, and he used the true story of a Russian schooner which had run aground locally a few years previously as the basis for how Dracula – in the form of a black dog – escaped from the wreck and so arrived in England. The tombstones in the graveyard in St Mary’s Church – which is gradually falling into the sea – gave him some character names. But the stark and haunting silhouette of the Gothic Whitby Abbey must have been a huge driver for his imagination.

Dracula might represent the power of evil in an extreme form, and our fears of what evil might do to us, but Dracula was powerless before the sign of the Cross. For Christians (and Dracula) the Cross demonstrates the conquering of the very worst evil forces. Death is swallowed in Victory.

Today you will find silly tokens in Whitby shops of Dracula’s threat – such as coffin-shaped chocolates and tombstone sweets. But behind the nonsense stands a key Christian truth: Christ has won! Remember, Dracula was afraid of the light. So you’ll be safe if you “Walk in the light”!

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