In 1897, at the age of 50, Bram Stoker was touring manager to the actor Henry Irving and was enjoying a modest success as a journalist and writer. Publication in that year of Dracula was to bring him international and lasting fame.
The Dracula mythology has inspired a vast subculture, but the story has never been better told than by Stoker. He succeeds entirely in his aim to terrify. His myth is powerful because it allows evil to remain mysterious. Virtuous action has no more impact than Jonathan Harker’s shovel. The high virtue of Lucy can simply be drained away, as her blood is drained away, until she too joins the vampire brood. Van Helsing’s high-thinking and scientific skill cannot resist the dreadful potency of the undead. Only the old magic, a crucifix, garlic, a wooden stake, can provide effective weapons against the Count’s appalling power.