The Dracula Society
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Past Society Events in 2016
Friday 9th December 2016
Another great evening for an informal drink and chat with fellow members and guests.
As always, small gifts were randomly redistributed using the raffle/ lucky dip of "Santa's Sack", and a keenly fought caption competition produced many hugely entertaining entries!
The 42nd Bram Stoker Birthday Dinner 2016
Saturday 12th November 2016
Once again we held our Annual Dinner at the Civil Service Club in central London, where the food and service were again excellent.
We hope to be able to use this venue for the foreseeable future.
Our Hamilton Deane Award for 2015 was won for the second time by film director Guillermo del Toro.
Following on from his award in 2006 for Pan's Labyrinth, this time he was honoured for his film Crimson Peak.
He was sadly unable to collect the award in person as he was filming in Canada, but sent an entertaining acceptance letter, which was read out at the Dinner.
The Hamilton Deane award made for Guillermo del Toro.
We hope soon to have a picture of him with it!
Our Children of the Night Award was won by writer Michael Chislett, for In the City of Ghosts.
He was present to collect the award in person at the Dinner, and made a very entertaining acceptance speech.
Michael Chislett with his Children of the Night award
The traditional Dinner quiz was keenly fought as always!
Tuesday 25th October 2016
Scary story readings in the usual atmospheric venue of the "Library Room" at the Victoria pub!
Saturday 1st October 2016
A talk by guest artist Anne Sudworth
For the very first time we enjoyed an illustrated talk by an artist.
Anne Sudworth is known internationally for her striking paintings of imaginary haunting moonlit landscapes, magical trees bathed in "earth light", and images based on some of Britain's most famous mystical sites, including Stonehenge, Avebury, Tintagel, and Whitby Abbey, which is one of her favourite subjects!
She considers all of her pictures to have a Gothic quality, even those which are not immediately seen as such.
Her fascinating talk explained the sources of her inspiration, in literature, folklore, mythology and nature.
Saturday 23rd July 2016
A day out in Bournemouth
To bring to a close our 2016 Society events commemorating the bicentenary of the origins of the classic Gothic novel Frankenstein, we returned after a gap of eleven years to the seaside town of Bournemouth on the South Coast of England to visit the grave of its author Mary Shelley, who is interred in a family tomb in St. Peter's churchyard in the centre of the town.
Mary Shelley's grave at St. Peter's church Bournemouth
The Society group pictured at Mary Shelley's grave
We also took the opportunity to visit the site of Skerryvore, the house where Robert Louis Stevenson lived from 1885-1887, and where he wrote The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
The house was destroyed by a bomb in 1940 during the Second World War, and only a memorial garden now remains.
Another very well attended day out, which was luckily again blessed with excellent weather!
Saturday 11th June 2016
A talk by author Christopher Fowler
Christopher Fowler has many fans among the members of the Dracula Society who love his dark short stories, anthologised in Dark Terrors and Best New Horror, and his novels, such as Psychoville, Hell Train, and Nyctophobia.
Here he recounted his recent first trip to Transylvania, which he illustrated with photographs of places which are very familiar to many Society members, and spoke about the inspirations for his writing.
He also read an extract from his new novella, which is a work in progress, which explores something that he feels that Bram Stoker missed out from Dracula, an account of the time that Jonathan Harker spent whilst at Castle Dracula cataloguing its contents, especially the Count's library.
We were also delighted to have with us as extra guests, Buffy the Vampire Slayer actress Juliet Landau and her husband Deverill Weekes, who were in London promoting and raising funding for a documentary series A Place Among the Undead, which they hope will be the definitive work on vampires in modern popular culture.
Juliet is the daughter of the actor Martin Landau, who is much revered in the Society for his Oscar-winning portrayal of Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton's 1994 biopic Ed Wood.
Juliet also appeared in the film as actress Loretta King.
Many photo opportunities presented themselves at this meeting!
The Diodati Bicentenary Trip
Thursday 2nd to Monday 6th June 2016
Celebrating the birth of Frankenstein and The Vampyre
Twenty-two Society members and guests spent four nights in Geneva Switzerland, to mark the bicentenary of the holiday that the poet Lord Byron, his personal doctor John Polidori, and Byron's fellow poet Percy Shelley and his fiancée Mary Godwin, spent staying by Lake Geneva in 1816. During that stay, where they were confined indoors for long periods due to very poor weather, they all met one evening at the Villa Diodati, where Byron and Polidori were staying, and decided to pass the time by each writing a horror story.
Most of the Society group pictured at the gates of the Villa Diodati
Two significant literary works grew from this "competition".
Mary Godwin started work on the novel that she would publish as Mary Shelley, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, a work considered by many to be the very first science fiction novel, and of course a hugely influential and much filmed Gothic classic.
John Polidori went on to publish The Vampyre, which was the first work to feature an attractive and aristocratic vampire figure, Lord Ruthven. This work almost certainly influenced Bram Stoker later in the century when he was creating Count Dracula.
The 2016 weather forecasts made the likely conditions sound every bit as grim as the original 1816 holidaymakers had experienced! In fact we had very good luck indeed with dodging the worst of the rain, and three members were able to do an open air reading performance near to the Villa Diodati, although sadly the building itself is now in private hands and inaccessible.
Society members Barry, Tina, and Penny performing with the villa in the background
The Villa Diodati in a drawing from 1835
The Villa Diodati as it appears today
Spring Meeting and AGM
Saturday 30th April 2016
"Diodati and the birth of Frankenstein"
An almost unprecedented forty-five Society members and their guests packed into our usual meeting venue at the Devereux public house in central London to hear an excellent illustrated talk by long-time friend of the Society Sir Christopher Frayling.
The theme of the talk was to tie in with our trip to Switzerland which was due to take place five weeks later to mark the bicentenary of the events at the Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva which resulted in the creation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and John Polidori's The Vampyre. Along with many fascinating facts about the events concerned, Sir Christopher talked about his own personal experience there while filming his BBC documentary series Nightmare, the Birth of Horror, for which he won our Society Hamilton Deane award for 1996. This very much increased the anticipation of those in attendance who were booked on our trip!
March Literary Meeting
Saturday 12th March 2016
A talk on the author Dennis Wheatley by Phil Baker, the author of the biography The Devil is a Gentleman: The Life and Times of Dennis Wheatley. This tied in neatly with our screening in January of the Hammer Films' production of Wheatley's best-selling novel The Devil Rides Out.
For this meeting, we returned, after a gap of many years, to the Barley Mow public house in London's Horseferry Road.
New Year Meeting
Saturday 23rd January 2016
As a tribute to Christopher Lee, who died in 2015, our traditional New Year film evening was a screening of The Devil Rides Out, a classic Hammer Films' production first released in 1968.
This was one of Lee's favourites of all of his countless films, and was based on a novel by his personal friend Dennis Wheatley.
Unusually, in this film Lee's character is on the side of good, battling the evil Devil worship cult leader Mocata, played with sinister brilliance by Charles Gray!
An amazing well over thirty Society members and guests packed our usual meeting venue, the Devereux public house in Central London, for this event.