The Dracula Society
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Past Society Events in 2023
The 48th Annual Bram Stoker Birthday Dinner
Saturday 4th November 2023
The biggest turnout of members and guests for many years came together to celebrate the Society's 50th anniversary in style!
We were delighted to welcome two special guests.
Chloe Franks has many genre credits to her name, particularly memorable in two Amicus productions, Tales from the Crypt, and The House that Dripped Blood.
Susan Penhaligon is probably our favourite Lucy Westenra, from the definitive BBC 1977 television version of Dracula.
We were also pleased that our two award winners were able to be with us in person to collect their awards.
The Hamilton Deane Award had been won by actor James Hyland for his amazing one-man show Dracula's Guest.
James Hyland admiring his Hamilton Deane Award.
The Children of the Night Award had been won by author Charlie Fletcher for his novel Dead Water.
Charlie Fletcher thanking the Society for the Children of the Night Award.
A highlight of the evening was the presentation of a special cake baked to celebrate the Society's 50th anniversary!
The first (and only) previous cake was made for the Society's 10th anniversary Dinner way back in 1983, so it was an idea which was well overdue to be revisited!
The wonderful celebration cake!
Tuesday 24th October 2023
A Society tradition. An evening of spooky Gothic readings by members as an appropriate precursor to Hallowe'en!
Saturday 7th October 2023
French vampire fiction before Dracula
A talk by writer Dr. Matthew Gibson
A very well-attended meeting enjoyed a fascinating scholarly and academic illustrated talk about the French vampire fiction published in the early and mid periods of the 19th century and before. We are grateful to Matthew's Chinese employers, the University of Macau, for allowing him the time off to speak to us!
This is exactly the type of event with reminds us of the Society's literary roots.
We found ourselves back at the Devereux public house, where we had meetings for some years, but thought we never would again as it had apparently permanently closed!
A Weekend in Whitby
Friday 15th to Sunday 17th September 2023
Our 50th Anniversary Whitby trip, with plenty of free time included to explore the seaside town where Count Dracula first arrived from Transylvania!
We followed the Dracula trail through the town on the Saturday, including Tate Hill Pier, where the Demeter came to rest, and climbing the 199 steps up to the site of the 'suicide's grave' in front of St. Mary's church. Then there was time to explore the ruins of Whitby Abbey, and the next day we walked (or took the bus!) to Robin Hood’s Bay in the footsteps of Mina and Lucy.
An excellent weekend, which included quite a few members and guests who were experiencing the magic of Whitby for the very first time!
Sunday 13th August 2023
Crisis on the King’s Road:
Counter-Culture hotspots – and Bram Stoker!
A walk in London visiting genre film locations, with our summer meeting speaker, Lauren Barnett.
Her Chelsea area walk was chosen, and the event proved to be so popular that the walk had to be done twice, in the morning and in the afternoon!
This included of course visiting the London houses in Chelsea where Bram Stoker lived.
Saturday 17th June 2023
Walking London's Horror History
Horror fiction and non-fiction author and podcaster Lauren Barnett, author of Death Lines: Walking London's Horror History gave us a fascinating and hugely entertaining presentation on genre-related film locations in London.
We are hugely anticipating her leading a walk for our summer outing later in the year, where she will show us some of the locations 'in the flesh'!
Friday 26th May to Sunday 4th June 2023
As the Dracula Society was originally set up 50 years ago to travel to Transylvania, in 2023 as part of our 50th anniversary we of course visited Romania!
A nine night/ten day trip, taking in Timisoara, Sibiu and Sighisoara (Vlad Tepes’ birthplace), Bela Lugosi’s birthplace in Lugoj, the magnificent castle of Hunedoara, Saxon fortified churches, Bistrita, and the Borgo Pass.
The group raising a toast at the Bela Lugosi Cinema in Lugoj
Sadly we were not able to stay at the Castle Dracula Hotel, as we have on previous trips in recent years, as it is closed at the moment. Instead we took the opportunity to stay in the Golden Crown Hotel in Bistrita, where our early trips always stayed before the Castle Dracula Hotel was opened in 1983.
Click here to see our full itinerary.
The 50th Anniversary Convention in Derby
Friday 14th to Sunday 16th April 2023
Derby was where Hamilton Deane's stage version of Dracula had its world première in 1924. Bela Lugosi also gave one of his last performances in the role in the city.
We started on the Friday evening with a genre quiz, held at a local pub, the Brunswick Inn, which was hotly contested, and gave people a good chance to get to know each other.
The following day, in the Grand Regency Ballroom of the historic Old Bell Hotel, we held our main programme of events, beginning with a screening of the documentary first made for our 30th anniversary, which details the story of the Society's foundation, featuring interviews with our sadly now late founders.
We followed that with a talk by writer Sarah Ward (as Rhiannon Ward, author of the Gothic historical thrillers, The Quickening and The Shadowing), and then screened the first of two new photo montages, this one showcasing our foreign trips over the years.
After a break for lunch, member Barry McCann gave us a talk on Carl Laemmle, the founder of Universal Pictures, and his son Carl Junior, with particular reference of course to the studio's early horror output, which featured many classics, including the 1931 Bela Lugosi Dracula of course.
After that, we screened our second new photo montage, highlighting our UK events, and honouring our Society award winners down the years. Then we launched our 50th anniversary anthology, A Tale That Is Told, featuring works by members, themed on the characters featured in Dracula. This maintained the tradition set by the previous anthologies we published in 2003 and 2013 to mark other 'significant' Society anniversaries.
The Convention Grand Auction in the Grand Regency Ballroom
Finally we held a Grand Auction, where members could buy and sell genre-related memorabilia. This is also a Dracula Society Convention tradition!
The day was rounded off by a special celebration dinner.
On the Sunday morning, local historian Darrell Buxton led a walk around the Dracula-related sites of the city, followed in the afternoon by a special one-man performance by Jonathan Goodwin, of theatre company Don't Go Into the Cellar! This was Dracula, or the Undead, and was very well received. Later in the evening, we also enjoyed a special screening of 1983's The Hunger, introduced by Darrrell Buxton, which was an excellent way to round off the weekend's events.
March Literary Meeting
Saturday 4th March 2023
The Supernatural Scarab from the Days of Dracula:
Richard Marsh’s The Beetle
A talk by Janette Leaf
Edgar Allan Poe, H. G. Wells,
and E. F. Benson, amongst others, have all contributed to the sub-genre of insect horror literature,
but one of the best examples must surely be Richard Marsh’s The Beetle; a horror novel about a shape-shifting ancient Egyptian deity first published in 1897, the same year as Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Dr. Leaf completed her PhD on
The Beetle at Birkbeck, and currently lectures on 'bugs in books' at conferences worldwide.
There was a very good turnout of members for this very entertaining illustrated talk.
New Year Meeting
Saturday 28th January 2023
For our first meeting of the Society's 50th anniversary year, we screened The Satanic Rites of Dracula, the third and final appearance of the classic Hammer Dracula series pairing of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.
The film was first released (in Germany) on November 3rd 1973, eleven days after the Dracula Society officially came into being on October 23rd, so the right choice for our 50th anniversary year!
This was our first meeting at a new venue, the Morpeth Arms in Millbank, overlooking the River Thames. A great start to our anniversary events!
1973 - 2023