GRATEFUL (truly, sincerely) to reader Melvyn Harland for pointing out a (ahem) grave mistake in my column last week about Whitby and Dracula, I might be taking a risk in choosing to flesh out (sorry again) the bones of that now intimate relationship. But the world fame of the link, and an hour or two spent last weekend in a Whitby teeming with (generally) black-clad Goths, has persuaded me to do so.

First a quote from the imperishable horror novel: "At the edge of the West Cliff, I looked across the harbour to the East Cliff in the hope or fear – I don’t know which – of seeing Lucy on her favourite seat. There was a bright full moon, with heavy black clouds driving across, which threw the whole scene into a fleeting diorama of light and shade.

"For a moment or two I could see nothing. Then, as the cloud passed, I saw the ruins of the Abbey coming into view; and as the edge of a narrow band of light, sharp as a sword cut, moved along, the church and the churchyard became gradually visible…There, on our favourite seat, the silver moonlight struck a half-reclining figure, snowy white…”

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Not bad, eh?

Last week I raised the question of when Whitby’s Dracula industry got going. The key event was probably a visit by members of the Dracula Society in 1977. Whitby’s Rector, Canon Joe Penniston, remarked: “People in Whitby know of Stoker and Dracula but no one bothers about him.”

But the society’s secretary, Bernard Davies, insisted Dracula was a better tourism bet than Capt Cook. Prophetically, he said that promoting Whitby’s Dracula connection would make the town “the centre of attraction for Dracula fans the world over”.

His words took root, with Scarborough council adopting (embracing?) Dracula as “a marketable commodity”. A plaque-linked trail appeared, followed by the Dracula Experience. As Dracula fans prowled the clifftop churchyard seeking his non-existent grave, Canon Penniston’s successor, the Reverend Ben Hopkinson, vented his fury in the parish magazine. “Whitby needs Dracula like it needs raw sewage on the beach,” he exploded. Denouncing the tale as “a psycho-sexual fantasy”, he protested that Whitby’s streets were now “full of dreadful inappropriateness”.

That was the Goths, by no means synonymous with the literary types of the Dracula Society. In 1996 the Dracula Society secretary debunked the Goths for “prancing around in black costumes and with pasty faces, which is just a fashion style and nothing at all to do with Dracula”.

Entering from a different angle, a Bishop of Whitby capped the complaints by the rectors by declaring: “I want to get rid of this silly Dracula thing, which has nothing to do with Whitby.”

It certainly turns out that none of the first screen version of Dracula was filmed in Whitby – my mistake last week. The Dracula bandwagon will roll on. The late Whitby poet Tom Stamp wrote: “Although he was of fiction born/ His devotees are quite forlorn/ To think they cannot see his tomb/ And ponder there upon his doom.”

But as Tom’s wife, Cordelia, rightly observed in her booklet Dracula Discovered: “Since visitors to Haworth parsonage look for Jane Eyre’s grave, and also inquire which of the Bronte sisters married Heathcliffe, perhaps we should not be surprised.”