Transylvania's Bran Castle is a fitting döppelganger for the fictional Count Dracula's atmospheric abode.

Transylvania’s Bran Castle is a fitting döppelganger for the fictional Count Dracula’s atmospheric abode.

In conjunction with the exhibit “Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination,” the British Library in London is offering a lucky bibliophile the chance to head to Transylvania. The winner of this enticing expedition will delve into the history surrounding Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for the title character in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The five-day excursion includes the tour “Dracula: The True Story of Vlad the Impaler” and sightseeing outings with an English-speaking guide. (Click here for details on how to enter the competition.)

Dracula and other spine-tingling tales are the focus of “Terror and Wonder,” which traces the 250-year history of the Gothic genre. The wonderfully atmospheric exhibit begins by spotlighting Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, the 1764 novel that created a sensation and is credited with kicking off the genre. From there the exhibit explores influential works that followed Walpole’s page-turner, like Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, and traces the Gothic influence into contemporary times. In addition, “Terror and Wonder” intriguingly illustrates how the Gothic tradition has extended beyond literature to film, art, music, fashion, and architecture.

Literary buffs will enjoy seeing handwritten drafts of Dracula and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Also included in the multi-media exhibit are film clips, posters, paintings, Alexander McQueen clothing, and some 200 other items, including a vampire slaying kit complete with holy water and a pistol for firing silver bullets. Because a great book really can make the imagination run wild.

“Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination” is on view through January 20, 2015.


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