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Dracula Was a Woman: In Search of the Blood Countess of Transylvania

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  175 ratings  ·  27 reviews
An investigation in the life of Elizabeth Bathory, a Hungarian countess who also was a serial killer of young peasant and noble women. This book highlights court documents translated for the first time into English. The second half is a general interest exposition on vampires, werewolves, and necrophiles.
Unknown Binding, 254 pages
Published June 1st 1987 by McGraw-Hill Companies (first published 1983)
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Average rating 3.49  · 
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 ·  175 ratings  ·  27 reviews

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Start your review of Dracula Was a Woman: In Search of the Blood Countess of Transylvania
Nov 05, 2009 rated it did not like it
Hey! You know what? The Countess of Bathory has long been accused of bathing in virgin's blood to remain young! Now, I know that some of you will say that this is a trumped up charge akin to the cry of "witchcraft" that was used against a woman who attempted to call in a very hefty debt from the then king, so he may avoid repayment. Well, I learned from this book that claim is simply false.
For instance, take a look at the testimony given by the tortured peasants many years after her trial. See a
Jan 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: bathory, reviewed
Elizabeth Bathory was a medieval Hungarian Countess accused of torturing and killing hundreds of girls and bathing in their blood to make herself younger. Dracula Was a Woman was the first nonfiction book about Elizabeth Bathory written in English, so it holds a place of honor amongst Bathory biographies. Of course, Raymond McNally's book has since been surpassed by Tony Thorne's Countess Dracula and Kimberly Craft's Infamous Lady.

McNally tells us that the trials of 1611 held against Elizabeth
May 21, 2011 rated it liked it
The first half of this book was a factual look into the life of Elizabeth Bathory and McNally works to expell many of the myths and half truths that have grown up around the legend of this aristocratic sadist. Although he does seem to really on a lot of previously published information he does also unearth some of the original documents from Elizabeth's trials in January 1611, which shed a bit of light on what really happened (these documents are also summarised in an appendix and make very inte ...more
Maria Peterson
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
read this if you want to read freudian analysis of necrophilia that's surprisingly feminist but virulently homophobic. i enjoyed it immensely ...more
Quinn Strange
Really great, goes a lot deeper than just the story of Elizabeth Bathory. I'm just confused about how the thesis turned into a sex thing. ...more
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is nonfiction which makes it all the more horrifying. I feel like I need to cleanse my soul...
Nov 13, 2007 rated it liked it
The first half of this book was very informative, all about the life of Elizabeth Bathory with a focus on separating the legend that has grown up around her from the actual facts (which, based on the trial transcripts, may not be "facts" but false information extracted from Bathory's collaborators under torture). I had hoped that the appendices would contain a complete translated trial transcript (say that 3 times fast) but mostly it was just a summary and certain testimonies relevant to the aut ...more
Jul 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Lovers of dark stories and history
Recommended to Gina by: My mother
This book provided reliable, accurate information about countess Elizabeth Bathory, the so called "Blood Countess." She lived in Hungary in the late 1500s and early 1600s and was infamous, even in her day, for the number of women she murdered. The estimate is between 60-600 women, mostly peasants and some low-born nobles. The myth surrounding Countess Bathory holds that she bathed in the blood of virgins in the hope of appearing younger; she was deathly afraid of aging and tried anything to sto ...more
Wonderful revisionist history. The researchers get right at the root of the Dracula legend. They contend that Stoker based his character, not only on Vlad Tepes, but on Elizabeth Bathory. Explains that Bathory was the rarest of birds: a female, sexually-motivated, recreational killer. Casually explodes the myth about her bathing in blood to keep herself young.
Apr 17, 2008 rated it it was ok
The first half of this book, discussing the life of Elizabeth Bathory, was engaging and interesting. But as the author progressed, trying to prove fantastical claims that she was a necrophiliac as well as a werewolf and a flesh eater, it quickly degraded into ludicrous.
Noah Soudrette
Feb 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is one of the better books out there on Elizabeth Bathory. It goes into great detail about her family history and genealogy. The real draw here is the details of the tortures she inflicted on approximately 500 young women. Gruesome stuff, but also fascinating.
I really don't now why the book is titled what it is because McNally does not prove the title at all.

Apparently vampires are a result of abuse at the hands of women.
Jul 01, 2018 rated it liked it
This is an oddball book. The history portion of the book is interesting. In the opening the author talks about going to that part of Europe and doing original research and publishing information for the first time in English. I don't know why the author didn't choose to focus exclusively on the history. It's good stuff. The next three sections are historical examples of vampirism, werewolfism, and necrophilia. It's really disjointed. It's hard to sort out the anecdotal from the well documented. ...more
May 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
I really wanted this to be about Elizabeth a lot more than it was. The part that was actually about her was interesting. Several documents were mentioned and not really explored? I felt like when he was writing her story he was just chomping at the bit to talk about how it relates to the psychology of whatever previous vampire/werewolf studies he’d done. It read very pretentious and honestly pretty judgmental of random side characters/people in the story? Not to mention when we get into the psyc ...more
Aug 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
The book lacks somewhat in coherency, giving a bit of an impression of being a collection of anecdotes scattered all over the place. Nevertheless, it does make some interesting points concerning Elizabeth Bathory, vampire myth, and horror fiction in general.
Anna Pannell
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the most terrifying books I have read thus far. Bathory was a sick, sadistic person.
Oct 13, 2012 rated it liked it
This book claims to bypass the infamous myths of Elizabeth Bathory and get to the facts - which it did and the first half of the book is what I loved, although the truth about Elizabeth Bathory is actually much more horrifying than the old (unsubstantiated) bloodbath legend.
The things she did were actually more horrific that simply bathing in the blood of virgin girls - Elizabeth does seem to be portrayed in an erotic sense though and much is made of her bisexuality and her possible incestuous a
Mar 22, 2016 rated it liked it
One of those "truth is stranger than fiction" scenarios, to be sure. I had some pretty decent background knowledge to this historical figure going into the book, but I was still impressed by the amount of information I did *not* have. I liked the historical and background information that gave the story its importance and its proper setting. Though it ended up being one of my chief complaints as it began to wear on me and toward the end I ended up skipping a little bit of the intros. I think wha ...more
Oct 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
The author, the late Raymond T. McNally, was a professor of Russian & East European History at Boston College and wrote, or co-wrote several works on Dracula and the historical personages behind the fictional character that Bram Stoker created in the late 19th century. Stoker's Dracula had several characteristics, however, including biting and drinking blood, that do not appear in the historical records of the historical Vlad the Impaler, nor in the folklore surrounding his memory. So where did ...more
Nicole G.
Mar 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
This should have been two books, or a long form article and a book. The first portion is the author's attempt to unearth the truth of Elizabeth Bathory. Did she really bathe in the blood of virgins? The author tells us that this is false, but there is really no evidence to support this. In one of the appendices, he summarizes trial documents, and, indeed, whatever Bathory did, she was a serial killer, and she didn't even have to do her own kidnapping! Anyway, the rest of the book devolves into g ...more
Nov 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
I was horribly disappointed in this book (and I should have minded the reviews more). I ended up reading about Countess Elizabeth when I was researching Hungarian history in the Middle Ages- and her name appeared once or twice which made me curious to read more. Note to readers-this book doesn't give an accurate historical account of the countess. The first half of the book the author tries to give details about Elizabeth but she really fell short about this. The author gives information about t ...more
Feb 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the vampire myth and true crime
Shelves: non-fiction
Again, a book about Countess Elizabeth Bathory. here's a link to the wikipedia article about her: [] Very interesting if you are into that sort of thing. ...more
Rebecca Johns
Jan 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
The first English writer to attempt a more serious look at Bathory, but unfortunately it still relies too much on the heavily fictionalized biographies written in the 18th and 19th centuries for some basic information. Much better is Tony Thorne's Countess Dracula. ...more
Jul 21, 2008 rated it liked it
Read about half way through this book and kind of lost interest. Was interesting in the beginning but then he just seemed to be repeating himself. Also the part about the trial was pretty boring with lots of background.
Feb 10, 2008 added it
I began reading this book, but put it down, once I finish the book I am currently reading, I will finish and rate it.
Mar 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, vampire
A very interesting book of the history of Elizabeth Bathory. Of course I liked it because, well, I'm me. ...more
Billy Nye
rated it it was amazing
Nov 28, 2019
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May 18, 2010
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Raymond T McNally was an American author and professor of Russian and East European History at Boston College. He specialized in the history of horror and wrote many books around the subject.

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