One of the most famous names associated with Whitby will always be ‘Dracula’, the central character of Bram Stoker’s novel that was published in 1897. Count Dracula is widely considered to be one of the most famous Gothic figures ever created.
During his visits to Whitby whilst writing the book, Stoker was influenced by the local people and surroundings, and the town served as a backdrop for some of the best-known scenes.
The neighbouring address to ‘Bram’s View’, 7 Royal Crescent appears in the novel as the address (slightly amended to ‘7 The Crescent, Whitby’) for Count Dracula's solicitor, "Samuel F Billington”, who arranges for fifty crates of earth from the ship to be transported by Great Northern Railway from Whitby to “ Carfax, near Purfleet.”
The Whitby Gazette reported on 24 October 1885 that “the Russian schooner Dmitri of Navra, with silver sand, came in suddenly, in heavy weather, but going ashore in “Collier's Hope” became a total wreck.” (Silver sand is a soft mortar sand used in building.) In Stoker’s novel, Dracula arrived in Whitby aboard the Russian schooner, the Demeter, whose cargo consisted of crates of earth, or “mould”, needed for Dracula’s safe repose.
Bram Stoker enjoyed his first Whitby holiday in 1890, staying at No 6 Royal Crescent, a guesthouse run by Mrs. Emma Veazey (commemorated with a plaque by the front door). The following week his wife, and their only child, the ten-year-old Noel, joined Bram and they stayed in the town for the next three weeks. It is probable that their bedroom was on the third floor and the sitting room would have been below, on the second floor.
Whilst staying here and listening to stories told by the townsfolk, fact was easily woven into Stoker’s tale. His handwritten notes for Dracula, which survive at the Rosenbach Museum in Philadelphia, PA – include the pages he recorded in Whitby: Coast Guard reports of ship wrecks at Whitby; conversations with seamen about local legends; sketched maps of the town; descriptions of both day and night scenes; and a glossary of local dialect.
The ship washed ashore in a storm, all hands aboard dead, and Dracula, in the form of a dog, bounded ashore and ran up the famous 199 steps to St Mary's church and the graveyard at the top. Local folklore tells of ‘Barghest’ or ‘Barguest’, the huge black phantom hound, said to prowl the Yorkshire Moors, with a particular preference for the Whitby area. And, interestingly, the myths of “Demeter” involve her daughter, Persephone, who was abducted by Hades, and became Queen of the Dead.
Also staying at No 6 Royal Crescent were three ladies from Hertford, Isabel and Marjorie Smith and their friend Miss Stokes, and it has been suggested that Bram based the characters of Lucy, Mina, and Mrs Westenra on his fellow guests.
Stoker carried out some of his research into East European folklore at Whitby library and it was probably here that he first came across the name Dracula, when he borrowed a book with the title ‘An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia’, written in 1820 by William Wilkinson. This book included in one of its paragraphs ‘Voivode Dracula’ whose history (largely fictional) is explained by Prof. Van Helsing and based on the historical truth that Dracula won in battle against the Turks and  ‘Dracula in the Wallachian dialect means ‘Devil’!
Today, to recognize the part Bram Stoker and Dracula have played in the history of Whitby, a plaque on a bench overlooking the Whitby harbour marks the area that Bram reportedly sat to write his notes for Dracula. By day Whitby is a beautiful scenic town full of life and activity. But when the cool mist rolls in at nightfall and the idyllic town takes on a strangely sinister feel, it might be best to retreat to ‘Bram’s View’
The tombstones in the graveyard of St. Mary’s church provided a list of names for Stoker’s characters, not all of whom were included in the final draft of Dracula. Whitby residents Braithwaite Lowery, Andrew Woodhouse, John Paxton, and seaman Swales, however, will live forever on the pages of Dracula.