Anyone who’s anyone online has been keeping up with the daily journal entries of English solicitor Jonathan Harker — aka one of the main characters in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. On Tumblr in particular, posts about the classic novel have started to take over the platform. While it may seem odd that vast swaths of Tumblr users have declared the classic novel their new obsession, there is actually a pretty simple explanation for the phenomenon: Dracula Daily.
What is Dracula Daily?
Dracula Daily is a newsletter from web developer Matt Kirkland, which delivers the classic 1897 novel Dracula to your inbox — but with a twist. Bram Stoker’s book is written in epistolary format, via letters, diary entries, and newspaper articles. The events of the story occur between May and November, and Kirkland “will post a newsletter each day that something happens to the characters, in the same timeline that it happens to them.”
The newsletter actually first launched last year, but Kirkland decided to loop it back around again for this year, because, well, why not? It kicked off on May 3 — the day that solicitor Jonathan Harker begins his travel diary recounting his business trip to Transylvania — and will end on November 7. Some days will have no entries, while some days while have multiple chapters. (Here’s a handy guide on when the emails will come, if you were curious).
It’s not a modern adaptation like The Lizzie Bennet Diaries or indeed any sort of adaptation featuring the Count, such as Castlevania. Since the newsletter goes day by day, it is also not a one-to-one interpretation of the novel, which jumps forward and backward in time. For the most part, though, Dracula Daily is simply the text of Dracula delivered in bite-size (ha) chunks. It’s not the first run of this newsletter, but this time around, various online communities — particularly on Tumblr — have decided to bring Dracula back to life (ha ha).
Across the internet, people are getting a taste (ha ha ha) of Dracula. It’s like a giant book club, except with a more generous time to finish your page count. Particularly, Dracula Daily has found an especially huge audience on Tumblr: Despite launching on May 3, the newsletter managed to beat out pop culture heavy hitters like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Moon Knight, and The Owl House (coming in second only to the Met Gala), according to Tumblr’s Fandometrics tracker.
One day, users logged on to find that everyone they followed was suddenly posting about Dracula. Some didn’t even know this was thanks to a newsletter, and simply assumed Tumblr users decided to latch onto an old book. Finding out about the newsletter, however, convinced people to sign up — which just resulted in more posts.
And when people on the internet are into something, memes are sure to follow — from fan art to comics and more. Since the first few Dracula Daily entires focus on Jonathan, there have been lots of posts about how lovely it is to get an email from their buddy Jonathan Harker on his business trip.
There is just something particularly funny about seeing a classic novel like Dracula back in the zeitgeist. Unlike classics like Pride and Prejudice or For Whom the Bell Tolls, you can be familiar with Dracula, the character, even without being familiar with the novel’s plot points. (The closest equivalent is probably Frankenstein, where people certainly know Frankenstein’s monster even if they haven’t read the book.)
With that in mind, certain pieces of the novel turn hilarious with the context of time. In 2022, we all know who Dracula is, but in 1897, poor Jonathan Harker is blissfully unaware as to why a peasant woman tried to give him a crucifix.
But it’s not all memes and tomfoolery. Some people are also using this as a chance to examine the classic text from a more scholarly point of view, be it offering historical context or unpacking some of the elements that have not aged well.
There are still many months to go for Dracula Daily, so only time will tell if the excitement will sustain. If you’re interested in joining Tumblr’s hot new book club, you can still subscribe to the newsletter; the emails already sent out are available on the Substack page, if you want to catch up.