Abraham "Bram" Stoker (8 November 1847 – 20 April 1912) was an Irish novelist and short story writer, best known today for his 1897 Gothic novel Dracula. During his lifetime, he was better known as personal assistant of actor Henry Irving and business manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London, which Irving owned. Famous for introducing the character of the vampire Count Dracula, the novel tells the story of Dracula's attempt to relocate from Transylvania to England, and the battle between Dracula and a small group of men and women led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing. Before writing Dracula, Stoker spent several years researching European folklore and mythological stories of vampires. Dracula is an epistolary novel, written as a collection of realistic, but completely fictional, diary entries, telegrams, letters, ship's logs, and newspaper clippings, all of which added a level of detailed realism to his story, a skill he developed as a newspaper writer. Although Stoker did not invent the vampire, he defined its modern form, and the novel has spawned numerous theatrical, film and television interpretations.The original 541-page manuscript of Dracula, believed to have been lost, was found in a barn in northwestern Pennsylvania during the early 1980s. It included the typed manuscript with many corrections, and handwritten on the title page was "THE UN-DEAD." Stoker's Notes for Dracula show that the name of the count was originally "Count Wampyr", but while doing research, Stoker became intrigued by the name "Dracula", after reading William Wilkinson's book Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia with Political Observations Relative to Them (London 1820), which he found in the Whitby Library, and consulted a number of times during visits to Whitby in the 1890s. The name Dracula was the patronym (Drăculea) of the descendants of Vlad II of Wallachia, who took the name "Dracul" after being invested in the Order of the Dragon in 1431. In the Romanian language, the word dracul can mean either "the dragon" or, especially in the present day, "the devil". Vlad III would later partly inspire the vampire in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel “Dracula”. Stoker's inspirations for the story, in addition to Whitby, may have included a visit to Slains Castle in Aberdeenshire, a visit to the crypts of St. Michan's Church in Dublin and the novella Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. Although Dracula is a work of fiction, it does contain some historical references. The historical connections with the novel and how much Stoker knew about the history are a matter of conjecture and debate. Dracula has enjoyed enormous popularity since its publication and has spawned an extraordinary vampire subculture in the second half of the 20th century. At the center of this subculture is the legend of Transylvania, which has become almost synonymous with vampires.The story of Dracula has been the basis for numerous films and plays. Stoker himself wrote the first theatrical adaptation, which was presented at the Lyceum Theatre under the title Dracula, or The Undead shortly before the novel's publication and performed only once. The first film adaptation of Dracula was released in 1922 and was named Nosferatu. It was directed by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau and starred Max Schreck as Count Orlock. The 1931 film version of Dracula was based on the 1927 stage play dramatized, starred Bela Lugosi, directed by Tod Browning, is one of the most famous versions of the story and is commonly considered a horror classic. In 1958, Hammer Films produced Dracula, a newer, more Gothic version of the story, starring Christopher Lee as Dracula and Peter Cushing as Van Helsing. It is widely considered to be one of the best versions of the story to be adapted to film. This was followed by a long series of Dracula films, usually featuring Lee as Dracula. Bram Stoker's Dracula (also released as Dracula), the1992 American Gothic horror vampire romance film directed and produced by Francis Ford Coppola remains the most popular modern adaptation of the book to date, a box office hit, won several Academy Awards and other recognition. It stars Gary Oldman as Count Dracula, Winona Ryder as Mina Harker, Anthony Hopkins as Professor Abraham Van Helsing, and Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker. As of 2009, an estimated 217 films feature Dracula in a major role, a number second only to Sherlock Holmes (223 films).