MAY 26, 1897: Bram Stoker’s landmark novel Dracula goes on sale for the first time, updating the folktale figure of the vampire in the form of a suave Transylvanian count who travels to London. A longtime business manager at the Lyceum Theatre in London, Stoker may have drawn inspiration for his charismatic vampire character from the famous stage actor Sir Henry Irving, with whom Stoker worked, and also the historic Wallachian count Vlad III, also known as “Vlad the Impaler.” Sales of the novel were moderate at first, and upon Stoker’s death in 1912 none of his obituaries mentioned it. It was only after the novel was adapted on Broadway in 1924 and then in 1931 as a Hollywood film starring Bela Lugosi (pictured) did the character become a runaway success, inaugurating the modern popular fascination with vampires.