Radu Florescu dead: Legacy of the Romanian 'Dracula professor' remembered

Prof Florescu was allegedly the first to link Dracula with Vlad the Impaler

A famous historian who made the link between Dracula and Romanian prince Vlad the Impaler has died.

Radu Florescu was a Romanian-born professor and philanthropist who gained worldwide renown in 1972 for co-authoring the book In Search of Dracula.

He died aged 88 on Sunday in Mougins, France, from complications connected to pneumonia, his son John Florescu said.

Prof Florescu wrote at least a dozen books on Dracula, the origins of other fictional monsters and Romanian folklore.

His work, translated into 15 languages, argued that Irish author Bram Stoker based his Dracula character in the 1897 novel on Vlad the Impaler.

The 15th Century aristocrat’s full name was Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, but he was known by his patronymic name “Dracula”, after his father Dracul.

He was notorious for his brutal executions by impalement of between 40,000 and 100,000 people, both in war with the Ottoman army and in crackdowns against political rivals and criminals. 

Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Alexander Grayson in Dracula, with Victoria Smurfit as Lady Jayne Wetherby A television series Jonathan Rhys Meyers is the latest adaptation of Dracula. Prof Florescu’s work spanned Eastern European history, leading him to found the East European Research Centre at Boston College in 1986.

He provided scholarships for gifted Romanian students to study there and continued his work until 2008, when he became Professor Emeritus of the department.

Jim Rosapepe, a former US ambassador to Romania, said: “No American has educated more Americans about Romania — and Dracula — than Professor Florescu. I was lucky to be one of his grateful students.”

Born in Bucharest in 1925, he left Romania on the Orient Express when he was 13 just as the Second World War broke out and travelled to Britain, where his father was the acting ambassador.

His father, also named Radu Florescu, resigned the post when pro-Hitler Marshal Ion Antonescu rose to power in Romania.

As a teenager, he won a scholarship to study at Oxford University, where he was taught by Sir William Deakin, Winston Churchill's biographer. He later moved to America, ending up in Boston.

When the communist government in Romania toppled in 1989, Prof Florescu urged Romanians to embrace their new-found freedoms and he received honours from former Romanian presidents Ion Iliescu and Emil Constantinescu for his contributions to the country’a society.

Romania's royal family sent condolences on behalf of the former monarch King Michael, who was forced to abdicate in 1947 by the communist-led government.

“Through his work, Professor Florescu built a bridge between Romania and the United States, giving Romanian history ... a drop of universality,” the royal house said in a statement, praising Prof Florescu for dedicating himself to his students.

He is survived by his French wife, Nicole, and their four children.

Additional reporting by AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Guru Careers: Graduate Resourcer / Recruitment Account Executive

£18k + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright, enthusiastic and internet...

Reach Volunteering: Chair and trustees sought for YMCA Bolton

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Bolton YMCA is now a...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine