Libraries Round the World: Dracula In Whitby, England

Whitby is a small town in England on the North Sea and the River Esk. The location was a prime spot for Viking invaders and is about fifty miles northeast of the historic town, York. This coastal area is on the edge of the famous North York Moors.

Whitby cathedral (partially destroyed by the Vikings) seen through a whale bone

Bram Stoker had some time off from his London theatre job and came to the coastal vacation spot of Whitby to relax in 1890. He was planning a vampire tale and during his time here researched vampire stories and developed his idea for the book. You may remember that Dracula sleeps in a casket below deck and arrives in England at this very port.

Whitby town and part of beach area – would be beautiful baking in the sunshine

The town’s library is sadly one of those examples of 1960s urban renewal gone wrong. A matching complex, with a similar police station and hospital building, was created. But I wish I could have seen what used to be there.

The library with yours truly between the murals
Captain Cook looking out towards the North Sea & way in the distance lies Denmark

Whitby also has some other famous visitors. Captain Cook was born not far from here and lived in a building near the port, which is now a museum. He trained to be a sailor here before going over on his many voyages including his discovery of Australia.

His apprenticeship home was in the attic, now a museum

J.M.W. Turner, the famous British artist, also was inspired and painted here. He is well known for painting seascapes with dramatic ships at sea. Once, in a strong gale, he tied himself to the mast to see how best to paint the scene.

The cathedral in ruins after a real Viking raid

About 14,000 people live here, but in the summer the town is packed. We were here in May with the crowds, but was still early in the season, with uncooperative weather: cold and rainy. It’s a charming town so I would love to return in the summer!

Whitby town on both sides of the Esk’s river opening

Karen Stensgaard is a novelist and has published two books so far: AQUAVIT and BLUENESS. She’s a fan of J.M.W. Turner’s breathtaking artwork which somehow got a mention in both novels. But Dracula and Captain Cook might somehow weave their way into another story!

Bram Stoker would probably love this display in the cathedral’s museum

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