Count Dracula, Van Helsing, and Giant Spiders in the Cathedral

Posted by: Karl Shuker on September 9th, 2017

Many years ago, while reading Bram Stoker’s classic vampire novel Dracula, which was originally published in 1897, I was intrigued by the following short but memorable aside spoken by the eminent vampire hunter Prof. Abraham Van Helsing to his former student Dr John Seward:

“Can you tell me why, when other spiders die small and soon, that one great spider lived for centuries in the tower of the old Spanish church and grew and grew, till, on descending, he could drink the oil of all the church lamps?”

Vampire. © David de la Luz/Wikipedia CC BY-SA 2.0 licence

At the time of reading it, however, I simply assumed that this extraordinary statement was nothing more than the product of Stoker’s very fertile, and febrile, imagination. Consequently, I swiftly dismissed it from my mind, never considering for a moment that it may actually have been inspired by reality And then, only very recently, I received a fascinating email from a correspondent that has incited me to revisit this brief passage from Dracula and reassess it in a much more enlightened manner.

Further details can be accessed here on my ShukerNature blog.

Karl Shuker About Karl Shuker

My name is Dr Karl P.N. Shuker. I am a zoologist (BSc & PhD), media consultant, and the author of 25 books and hundreds of articles, specialising in cryptozoology and animal mythology. I have a BSc (Honours) degree in pure zoology from the University of Leeds (U.K.), and a PhD in zoology and comparative physiology from the University of Birmingham (U.K.).

I have acted jointly as consultant and major contributor to three multi-author volumes on cryptozoology and other mysterious phenomena.

I am the Life Sciences Consultant to The Guinness Book of Records/Guinness World Records (Guinness: London, 1997-present day), and was consultant to Monsters (Lorenz Books: London, 2001), as well as a contributor to Mysteries of the Deep (Llewellyn: St Paul, 1998), Guinness Amazing Future (Guinness: London, 1999), The Earth (Channel 4 Books: London, 2000), and Chambers Dictionary of the Unexplained (Chambers: London, 2007).
I appear regularly on television & radio, was a consultant for the Discovery TV series Into the Unknown, and a question setter for the BBC’s quiz show Mastermind.
I am a Scientific Fellow of the Zoological Society of London, a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, a Member of the Society of Authors, and the Cryptozoology Consultant for the Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ).
I have written articles for numerous publications, including Fortean Times, The X Factor, Paranormal Magazine, FATE, Strange Magazine, Prediction, Beyond, Uri Geller’s Encounters, Phenomena, Alien Encounters, Wild About Animals, All About Cats, All About Dogs, Cat World, etc.
In 2005, I was honoured by the naming of a new species of loriciferan invertebrate after me – Pliciloricus shukeri.





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