Radu Florescu: Historian who was the first to make the link between Bram Stoker's Dracula and the prince Vlad the Impaler

 

Radu Florescu was a Romanian-born historian, professor and philanthropist who intrigued popular culture by writing a book linking the fictional Count Dracula to Vlad the Impaler.

He wrote a dozen books but was most famous for In Search of Dracula, which he wrote with Raymond T McNally in 1972. They asserted that Bram Stoker based the Dracula character in his 1897 novel on the 15th-century Romanian prince. The book was translated into 15 languages and the pair went on to write five more books on Dracula.

Florescu was the director of the East European Research Centre at Boston College, which he founded, from 1986 to 2008. In recent years, he provided scholarships for gifted Romanian students to study in the Boston area. He urged Romanians to embrace their new-found freedoms after communism ended in 1989.

When former President Nixon visited Romania in 1969, Florescu directed the US Embassy media liaison, providing information for the White House press corps. Former US congressman Patrick Kennedy called him "a needed bridge between the US and Romania and a wise counsel" to his father, the late Edward Kennedy, on Balkan affairs.

Born in Bucharest in 1925, Florescu left Romania on the Orient Express when he was 13 as the Second World War broke out and travelled to Britain, where his father was acting ambassador. His father, also Radu Florescu, resigned when the pro-Hitler leader Marshal Ion Antonescu rose to power in Romania. The younger Florescu won a scholarship to Oxford, where he was taught by Sir William Deakin, Winston Churchill's biographer, and later moved to the US.

ALISON MUTLER

Radu Florescu, historian: born Bucharest 23 October 1925; died 18 May 2014.

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