Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bram Stoker, Dracula & Highgate Cemetary

(So Twitter told me today was ‘World Goth Day’. And while I’m not exactly sure what that entails, here’s something that may interest those of responded to the hashtag from my Twitter account.) 

It’s not very often that an author gets to lay claim to inventing an entire genre. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the creators of Superman have a reasonable claim to having invented the Superhero genre. Likewise, there's an argument to be made that my favourite author J.R.R. Tolkien invented the High Fantasy genre. Another such creator is Bram Stoker, the author of the Gothic Horror classic Dracula. An Irishman, Stoker starting writing while working as a manager at London's Lyceum Theatre. After researching European folklore and mythology, he produced Dracula which was published in 1897. And while strictly speaking his novel was not the first vampire novel, it launched the genre into the world like none before it. Indeed, Dracula's popularity would eventually reach stratospheric heights, first appearing in film in 1922 and many since. He has also proved a popular comic book villain too.
Dracula in Marvel's X-Men: Curse of the Mutants, July 2010
Dracula in Marvel's X-Men: Curse of the Mutants, July 2010
Being a long-time Dracula fan, I decided recently to go up to Highgate Cemetery in London and take some photos. This place has long been understood to be a locale that inspired Stoker, with my tour guide even saying he sat and wrote in the cemetery itself. Highgate is one of the Magnificent Seven cemeteries which were founded as London grew in the early Victorian period. As you’ll see, it's hauntingly beautiful and if you're ever in London I highly recommend a visit. Nearby Hampstead Heath and the village of Highgate are nice too so make a day of it.

The Highgate Cemetery chapel

The stone, green and quiet all make for an otherwordly place in the midst of London.

Being quite overgrown the cemetery also serves as a nature reserve.
Stone Angel
This is the famous Cypress of Lebanon and is said to date back to the 1690s. Bram Stoker would have looked upon this tree as he wrote.
This is one of the spots where Stoker was said to sit in his chair and write.
Amazing trees!
The final resting place of the great scientist Michael Faraday.

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