I’m listening to Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” on tape. It’s really a good novel. Of course, I had to read the wikipedia entry to learn about the origins of Stoker’s book and the vampire mythology — quite interesting.
The entry rebuffs a lot of what we’ve heard about Dracula being inspired by the story of Vlad the Impaler:
Certainly Stoker did find the name Dracula in his reading on Romanian history. This became a replacement for the name Count Wampyr, which he had intended to use for his villain. Recently, however, many Dracula scholars led by Elizabeth Miller have questioned the connection’s depth. It now seems likely that Stoker knew little of Vlad himself, other than the name Dracula by which he called himself.
The best argument against a connection is simple: If Stoker knew a lot of Vlad the Impaler, he probably would have worked some impaling into the story.
By the way, the novel is presented as series of letters and other first-hand accounts of events. According to wikipedia, this is called an epistolary novel. Bet you didn’t know that.