The Dracula Society
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Past Society Events in 2017
The 43rd Annual Bram Stoker Birthday Dinner
Saturday 11th November 2017
Another very successful and enjoyable evening, with both of our Society award winners in attendance, and a very special guest in the amazing Renee Glynne.
Our Hamilton Deane Award was presented to television writer and producer Ashley Pharoah, for the 2016 BBC TV series The Living and the Dead.
Our Children of the Night Award was presented to writer Ramsey Campbell, for The Searching Dead. Ramsey became our first ever two-time winner, having won the award previously way back in 1989 for Ancient Images.
Our very special guest for the evening was former Hammer Films script supervisor and continuity girl Renee Glynne, who is still going strong at 91 years old!
She had many amazing stories to tell.
Our usual genre quiz was keenly fought as always!
Tuesday 24th October 2017
"Scary stories for Hallowe'en!"
Another hugely enjoyable evening of readings by members, which included sections from works by M. R. James and Rudyard Kipling, two stories from John Gordon, and two stories from Richmal Crompton, who is of course better known as the creator of the "Just William" series than as a ghost story writer!
Also our "Poet in Residence" Tina Rath read one of her own darkly amusing works, which was very well received.
Saturday 7th October 2017
Guest speaker, Duncan Light
A talk on the history of Dracula tourism in Romania, of which the Dracula Society was certainly one of the early pioneers.
Duncan interviewed some early Society members some years ago as part of his research for a book on the history of Romanian Dracula tours, about their experiences on early Society tours of Romania. His book, The Dracula Dilemma: Tourism, Identity and the State in Romania has now been published in paperback, and we were grateful to receive a copy for the Society archives.
We started the evening with a short video presentation taken from our Society 30th anniversary video, featuring footage from our early forays into Transylvania, which was very well received, especially by those in attendance who were seen on it as they were more than forty years ago!
Duncan then gave a fascinating illustrated talk about the history of Dracula tourism before the Romanian revolution of 1989.
The first tours that were marketed in Romania using the Dracula connection were actually sold in America in 1973, a year before the first Dracula Society tour, so we weren't quite the first!
This was our first meeting at a new venue, The Rugby Tavern, and was deemed to be a great success.
Friday 8th to Monday 11th September 2017
Nearly forty Society members and guests enjoyed three nights in Whitby, marking the 40th anniversary of the Society's very first visit back in 1977. This was amazingly the 12th occasion that the Society had officially visited the North Yorkshire seaside town, where Bram Stoker stayed in 1890 and where he of course set several chapters of Dracula!
Many of those in attendance actually love Whitby so much that they visit privately every year anyway, but this time we had a day of events at the Royal Hotel, followed the next day by our traditional walks through the town visiting the sites mentioned in Dracula, and also to Robin Hood's Bay, following the cliff-top footsteps of Mina and Lucy to the site of their "severe tea" at the Bay Hotel.
The events included a special screening of the film Holy Terrors, introduced by its co-director Mark Goodall. This portmanteau work is based on six stories by the Welsh writer Arthur Machen, whose supernatural tales have seldom been adapted for the screen, and was much appreciated. A huge bonus was the fact that the film was shot entirely in and around Whitby!
We also enjoyed talks on werewolves by Gail-Nina Anderson, and on the film versions of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Barry McCann.
Summer Day Out
Saturday 8th July 2017
"City Penny Dreadful"
Some twenty Society members and guests enjoyed a summer day out in the City of London, on a walk led by member Laura Miller, encompassing some of the grim and supernatural elements of the City. Laura is a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Stationers, and of the City itself, and is also a qualified guide for the many fascinating historical stories and the myths and legends of this ancient historic area of London.
Saturday 10th June 2017
Guest speaker, screenwriter Ashley Pharaoh
Ashley Pharaoh boasts an amazing CV in writing for television, starting out with "soap opera" dramas EastEnders and Casualty, and later high profile and hugely successful series Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes, which he co-wrote, amongst many others.
He was invited to speak to us as the co-creator and writer of the six part 2016 BBC TV series The Living and the Dead.
The series is set in the late Victorian period in rural Somerset, where Ashley was brought up, and is undoubtedly Gothic and very "Jamesian". Ashley described the series as "eerie" (he said that he didn't like to use the word "horror" to describe it!)
It explores the leakage of events through time from the present to the past (rather than the other way around as is more common) and the way that the life of the main protagonist Nathan Appleby is affected by this, eventually making him doubt his sanity.
Sadly, despite a "cliff-hanger" ending to the series, it seems that no more episodes will now be made.
The series has deservedly been nominated for our Hamilton Deane Award for 2016.
Czech Republic Trip
Tuesday 30th May to Sunday 4th June 2017
"The Golem and the White Lady"
Twenty-one Society members and guests spent five nights in Southern Bohemia and Prague, where the Czech Republic's capital city is home to the Gothic legend of the Golem!
The Golem is a Jewish legend concerning an artificial being formed from clay, usually by a Rabbi, and given life by placing a sacred scroll under its tongue. The creature's purpose is to protect the Jewish community when it finds itself under threat, but much like Frankenstein's creation, in Prague the Golem ran out of control!
We also followed the legend of the ghostly "White Lady", which appeared to be in fact several different similar legends attached to several castles in Southern Bohemia!
We were blessed with generally excellent weather, in fact rather too hot at times, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the castles, and exploring the city of Prague, which the Society last visited in 1999!
Spring Meeting and AGM
Saturday 22nd April 2017
"The Horrors Within"
After the business of our AGM, where we received our treasurer's and membership secretary's reports for 2016, we celebrated the genre work of the Society's very own authors!
We were pleased to hear that our membership numbers are now the highest that they have been for many years, and that the Society's finances are healthy.
Following the business part of the evening, member Tracy Lee chaired a discussion panel made up of five fellow members who are published authors, celebrating the depth of literary talent that we have present in the Society.
The panel consisted of Berni Stevens, Sue Gedge, Tina Rath, Jason Brawn, and Katherine Haynes.
All five read extracts from their work, and then took questions from Tracy, and from the floor, about how and why they started writing, and their inspirations.
March Literary Meeting
Saturday 11th March 2017
An evening with writer Ben Aaronovitch
Ben is the author of the acclaimed (and very Gothic!) fantasy series Rivers of London. We were delighted to welcome him to a Society event to be interviewed by Society member and fellow writer Tony Lee.
Ben gave us an extremely entertaining insight into his writing work in television and books over three decades, which includes two stories for the BBC TV series Doctor Who in the 1980s, and subsequently three "New Adventures" Doctor Who novels. He also wrote episodes for the short-lived "science fiction soap opera" TV series Jupiter Moon in the 1990s, and even wrote an episode of the long-running BBC TV medical drama Casualty!
His sources of inspiration for his current ongoing literary work, the Gothic fantasy "police procedural" series Rivers of London, are varied and fascinating. The series has now run to six books.
It revolves around the character of PC Peter Grant, apprenticed to a shadowy division of London's Metropolitan Police Force which deals with "magic and supernatural crime"!
This meeting was our first at a new venue, Ye Olde Cock Tavern public house in Fleet Street in central London, a street famous as the home of the British newspaper industry until about thirty years ago. The street is named after the Fleet river, a tributary of the Thames which now runs underground as part of London's original Victorian sewage system. As some of the main characters in Rivers of London are the "gods of the river", named after the tributaries of the Thames, this was a very appropriate location for Ben's interview!
New Year Meeting
Saturday 21st January 2017
A special screening of Theatre of Blood
Another first for the Society. We enjoyed a screening of the 1973 Vincent Price classic Theatre of Blood, with a live commentary from writer John Llewellyn Probert!
A former Society Children of the Night award winner (in 2006 for The Faculty of Terror) John has written the first of a series of "Midnight Movie Monographs" on this film, one of his all-time favourites, which he first watched on TV as a child!
While the film played, he regaled us with many fascinating facts about the production, its locations, and the use of incidental music.
He also told us many things about the film's cast, which reads like a "who's who" of the British character actors of the time.
Vincent Price plays a deranged Shakespearian actor, spurned by a circle of critics, on whom he wreaks murderous revenge one by one in the manner of killings in Shakespeare plays.
John considers this to be the role that Vincent was born for, and it was one of his favourite parts, helped no doubt by the fact that he met his future wife, co-star Coral Browne, while working on it!
As many of Vincent's horror films were not considered of any merit at the time by most critics, it was probably a very enjoyable part for him to play for other reasons too......