ARTSY: Vlad The Impaler Was A Pain In The Neck


Vlad The Impaler [courtesy of the ROSENBACH MUSEUM]

 ‘Tis the season of the macabre, what with Halloween right around the corner and John McCain trying to scare as many white people as possible, and nobody was more macabre than Vlad The Impaler, the historic template for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. As governor of a region of what is modern-day Romania, Vlad was one of those guys that today we would refer to euphemistically as a ‘strong leader.’ A real hardcore ‘law and order’ kinda guy, Vlad ruled with an iron fist, or, more accurately, a sharp stick. According to Wikipedia:

His post-mortem moniker of ?epe? (Impaler) originated in his preferred method for executing his opponents, impalement — as popularized by medieval Transylvanian pamphlets. The method of impalement he commonly practiced beyond popular images was called “bung poling”, dropping a person upright onto a sharpened tree trunk starting from between the legs, the weight of the person forcing the tip of the trunk through the chest cavity or neck.

As you may or may not know, our own Rosenbach Museum is the repository for Bram Stoker’s research notes and outlines for Dracula, which is why they hold a Dracula Festival every year around this time. This week, to be exact…

Schedule of Events:

stoker_note.jpgDracula notes on display in the Library

Tues. October 14 – Mon. November 3

How did Irish theater manager Bram Stoker create one of the most memorable literary characters of all time? See for yourself as we display selections from Stokers working notes for Dracula as part of Dracula Festival 2008.

Dracula Festival Hands-On Tour, Sleuths and Spies

Wed. October 8 and Wed. December 10 at 3:00pm

The game is afoot! In this hands-on tour we’ll ferret out some of the detective stories lurking in the Rosenbach’s collection, from the Mystery of Edwin Drood to an original Sherlock Holmes manuscript. We’ll examine the evidence for Dracula as a novel of detection, find out how Deadwood Dick turned sleuth, and get our hands on Conrad’s Secret Agent. All Hands-On Tours are free with museum admission. Tours are limited to six guests, ages 8 and up. No RSVP required.

draculaannotated.gifThe New Annotated Dracula

Reading and book signing with author Leslie Klinger

Wed. October 22 at 6:00 – 7:30pm

Dracula has gripped readers since its first publication in 1897. While the book has been studied by scholars in virtually every academic discipline, none have accepted the author Bram Stoker’s declaration that the work was based on historical fact. In his new book Klinger examines all of the evidence, both internal and external, including contemporary travel books, scientific texts, Victorian encyclopedias, as well as Stoker’s notes for the narrative and the original manuscript itself (the document is owned by a private, anonymous collector, and Klinger is one of only two researchers to have seen it in recent years). Klinger is also the author of the best-selling The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes. The event is free with museum admission. To RSVP, call (215) 732-1600 or email 

vampire_bat_flying.gifDracula Festival Hands-On Tour, The Growth of Stoker’s Dracula

Wed. October 22, Sat. October 25, and Wed. October 29 at 3:00pm

How much did Bram Stoker know about vampires? About Transylvania? How much that we think of as traditional vampire lore was his own invention? How did his concept of Dracula change during the seven years he worked on the novel? Would we still be talking about this today if he’d stuck to his original idea and written about Count Wampyr from Styria? Tours are limited to six guests, ages 8 and up. No RSVP required. All Hands-On Tours are free with museum admission. Join Rosenbach staff for a hands-on look at Stoker’s research notes, outlines, and other working papers.  The October 25 Hands-On talk will be accompanied by Dracula expert Elizabeth Miller, who recently co-annotated and transcribed Bram Stoker’s Notes for Dracula with Robert Eighteen-Bisang. This Hands-On tour is not limited and will be presented as a seated lecture. To RSVP, call (215) 732-1600 or email 

rosenbachdracula_spiralq_2_1.jpg6th Annual Dracula Parade

An artistic production of Spiral Q Puppet Theater at the Rosenbach

Sat. October 25, Kick-off at 2010 Delancey Street at 5:30pm

Don’t miss this classic Halloween event! Hordes of howling wolves, swooping bats, and larger-than-life characters from the novel Dracula will gather in front of the Rosenbach before setting out on spooky saunter around Rittenhouse Square. Costumes encouraged. Ghoulish fun for everyone!

wherethewildthingsare_1.jpgGallery Talk, Monster’s Ink: The Bogeymen in Sendak’s Closet

Wed. October 29 at 6:00pm

Let’s face it, Maurice Sendak is most famous for his monsters. But Sendak’s relationship to scary and threatening creatures goes way beyond the Wild Things. Goblins, devils, giants, angels, griffins, gorgons and the odd haunted forest lurk throughout his books. Meet some of these bogeymen face-to-face in this gallery talk, and find out where they come from in history, art, and Sendak’s own imagination. This gallery talk will be led by Patrick Rodgers, Consulting Curator for There’s A Mystery There: Sendak on Sendak. Gallery talks for the exhibition are held once a month. Read on to find others! The gallery talk is free with museum admission. To RSVP, call (215) 732-1600 or email

For more information, please call (215) 732-1600 or visit

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