Westenra, Lucy

Westenra, Lucy

(pop culture)

Lucy Westenra, one of the major characters in Bram Stoker‘s Dracula, made her initial appearance in the fifth chapter, where her correspondence with her long-time friend Mina Murray was recorded.

While never described physically in great detail, she obviously was an attractive young woman in her twenties, the object of the affection of three men, Arthur Holmwood, to whom she became engaged, Dr. John Seward, and Quincey P. Morris. In the meantime, she lived with her mother.

On July 24, Lucy met Mina at the Whitby station, and they retired to the home at the Crescent where they would stay for the next several weeks. On July 26, Mina noted that Lucy had begun walking in her sleep. On August 8, a sudden storm hit Whitby and the Demeter, the ship on which Dracula came to England, wrecked on shore. On August 11, at 3:00 A.M., Mina discovered Lucy had left her bed, and she went in search of her. Lucy was on the East Cliff in their favorite seat. As Mina made her way to Lucy, she saw “something, long and black, bending over her.” When she called out, the something looked up and Mina saw Dracula’s white face and red eyes. After she helped Lucy home, she saw two tiny marks on Lucy’s neck. Over the next few days Lucy grew more and more tired and the wounds on her neck did not heal. At this juncture, Lucy seemed to get better and Mina, having finally heard from her true love Jonathan Harker on August 19, left for Budapest to join him.

Lucy returned to London where Holmwood joined her, and they set plans to marry on September 28. However, her condition worsened, and Holmwood called Seward in to examine her. Unable to figure out what was wrong, he called Abraham Van Helsing as a consultant, as Van Helsing knew of obscure diseases. Lucy seemed to improve, but then turned pale and lost all of her strength. Van Helsing prescribed a blood transfusion. As they were about to perform the procedure, Lucy’s fiancé Holmwood arrived and the blood was taken from him. Later a second transfusion was taken from Seward and then, without giving his reason, Van Helsing surrounded Lucy with garlic.

Dracula returned to attack Lucy on September 17. The attack followed the removal of the garlic that Van Helsing had ordered to be put around her neck.

Morris was next in line to supply the blood needed to preserve Lucy’s life, but by this time it was already too late; she was turning into a vampire. She died and was laid to rest in the family crypt. Van Helsing immediately wanted to treat the body as a vampire. Holmwood (who by this time had inherited his father’s title as Lord Godalming) opposed any mutilation of the body. Though they had not married, he saw Lucy as his wife. In his opinion, the transfusion had served to marry them; they were married in the sight of God.

While the men rested, reports surfaced of missing children who, upon being found, told of being with a “boofer lady.” Van Helsing persuaded the men to institute a watch at Lucy’s tomb. They viewed her empty coffin and finally saw her walking around. In the end they cornered her in her coffin.

Holmwood assumed his responsibility and drove the stake through her chest. At this point, it was noted that the harsh, fiendish expression, which had characterized Lucy’s appearance at the time of her death, departed, and a face of sweetness and purity returned. Van Helsing cut off her head and filled her mouth with garlic. The men then turned their attention to killing Dracula.

When Dracula was brought to the stage and screen, the character of Lucy was handled quite differently. She disappeared completely from Nosferatu, Eine Symphonie des Garuens (1922) and Hamilton Deane‘s Dracula play. She returned in John Balderston‘s revision of Deane’s play for the American stage, though now she was Lucy Seward, Dr. Seward’s daughter. Both she and Mina returned in the 1931 films, in both the English and Spanish versions. In 1958’s The Horror of Dracula, Lucy was transformed into Holmwood’s sister and the fiancée of Jonathan Harker. She was given strong parts in the Jack Palance version of Dracula (1973) and became central to the Frank Langella‘s Dracula (1979). She was returned to a role more closely approaching the one in the novel in Francis Ford Coppola‘s Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992).

In literature, her character has made few appearances. Apparently, authors have felt that, since Lucy was killed off fairly definitively in Dracula, she has no real place in the vampire literature of the last century.

Whitby, a small town in northern England, was the setting for a major segment of Bram Stoker‘s novel, Dracula. Whitby is located in Yorkshire at the mouth of the Esk River. Stoker provided a fairly accurate description of the town as background to the story. Dominating the town, on the east side of the river, was St. Mary’s (Anglican) Church and the ruins of Whitby Abbey. The abbey dates to the seventh century. It was destroyed in the ninth century, rebuilt, and later abandoned.

As chapter 5 began Lucy Westenra met her friend Mina Murray at the train station and together they went to what has been identified as Number Four Crescent Terrace, where Mina joined the Westenra family in the rooms they had taken for a summer vacation. Stoker selected Whitby as a site for the events in his novel because he knew the town from his own visits in the years 1885 to 1890. During their first days in town, Lucy and Mina visited the local tourist spots—Mulgrave Woods, Robin Hood’s Bay, Rig Mill, Runswick, and Staithes.

Meanwhile Dracula was aboard the Demeter, which was speeding north from Gibralter toward the British coast. Two weeks later, the Demeter was spotted off Whitby shortly before a storm hit. The ship was beached on the sand near Tate Hill Pier, one of two piers at Whitby, and Dracula (in the form of a dog) was seen leaving the ship. On board the wreck, the boxes of earth that Dracula traveled with were discovered. Dracula stayed in Whitby for a week and a half and attacked Lucy twice.

The first attack came several days after the wreck. Mina discovered that Lucy (who had a record of sleepwalking) had disappeared. Standing on the West Cliff, Mina looked across the river to where she could see St. Mary’s Church and the ruins of Whitby Abbey. She saw a figure in white (Lucy) seated at what was called the “suicide‘s seat,” under which was a stone noting the death of George Canon who had committed suicide on that spot. Mina then ran to the bridge that connected the two parts of town on either side of the river.

From where Mina stood to the spot Lucy was located is almost a mile and required her walking down the cliff face on one side of the river and walking up the cliff face on the other side. As she reached the top of the steps near Whitby Abbey, she saw someone with Lucy, but he disappeared in a moment of darkness as a cloud briefly blocked the moonlight.

Several days later, Mina saw Lucy lean out of the window of her room. Beside her on the windowsill was “something that looked like a good-sized bird,” which turned out to be Dracula in the form of a bat. By the time Mina reached Lucy’s room, Dracula had completed drinking Lucy’s blood, and Mina helped her to bed. Shortly after this second attack, Dracula, his boxes of earth, and the action of the novel moved to London.

Today modern tourists can visit all of the sights mentioned by Stoker in the novel, including the apartment on the Crescent where Lucy and Mina were supposed to have stayed. Bernard Davies of the Dracula Society has prepared a walking-tour guide. Local vampire enthusiasts have organized to meet the needs of Dracula-oriented visitors. The main event is the Whitby Gothic Weekend a bi-annual gathering for Goths, first held in 1994, continued until 1997, and a bi-annual event since. The Goth Festival occurs in April and at the end of October over Halloween weekend. Those unable to make the pilgrimage, may learn about Whitby by visiting the Dracula-in-Whitby website (http://www.dracula-in-whitby.com/index.php), where it is also possible to sign up for the free Dracula-in-Whitby Newsletter.


Chapman, Paul M. Birth of a Legend: Count Dracula, Bram Stoker, and Whitby. York, UK: G H Smith, 2007. 268 pp.
Davies, Bernard. Whitby Dracula Trail. Scarborough, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom: Department of Tourism and Amenities, Scarborough Borough Council, n.d., 11 pp.
Stoker, Bram. The Annotated Dracula. Leonard Wolf, ed. New York: Ballantine Books, 1975. 362 pp.
———. The Essential Dracula. Raymond McNally and Radu Florescu, eds. New York: Mayflower, 1979. 320 pp.
The Vampire Book, Second Edition © 2011 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
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