The real inspiration for the tale of Count Dracula has been come under question ahead of a new TV series based on the horror story.
The team behind the BBC's popular Sherlock series are creating a new Dracula show for the BBC and Netflix .
The programme will draw on the novel by Bram Stoker, who apparently originally found out about the blood-sucking demon from a priest in Devon.
Writer Andy Struthers insists that rather than Vlad the Impaler, Mr Stoker took his inspiration for the famous virgin killing vampire from the clergyman.
Andy's book ''Dracula Incarnate : Unearthing The Definitive Dracula'' says the Gothic character is actually based on the works of Sabine Baring-Gould from Exeter – who would have much preferred drinking cider to blood.
He claims Stoker created the character Dracula after reading Baring-Gould's 'Lycanthropy: the study of Werewolves' and a vampire story called 'Margery of Quether'.
He adds that it also explains why in the famous 1897 text solicitor Jonathan Harker leaves from Exeter's Cathedral Close to make his perilous journey to Transylvania.
The author claims Stoker included the reference as a secret thank you to Baring-Gould and acknowledgement that he was inspired by him.
Andy, 49, from Warrington, Chesire, said: "The book of werewolves and the vampire tale provided Stoker with elements of his story, and virtually everything he needed for the creation of his vampire Count, possibly including the voice of his vampire, which was female.
"Stoker was fond of tipping his hat to friends and acquaintances who had either helped him in researching his novel, or perhaps, even inspired the characters within it's pages.
"Exeter was included in the novel as a way of saying thank you to Baring-Gould, and the masses of material that he had provided the Irish author with."
According to Mr Struthers, Stoker drew heavily on the books by Baring-Gould, born in 1834, who also wrote the famous hymn Onward Christian Soliders.
Mr Struthers added: "People will be surprised and sometimes shocked by my findings, as most of what they now hold true will be proven to be false.
"It's a bit like finding out who Father Christmas really is."
His findings will be revealed at the World Dracula Congress in front of Dracula author Bram Stoker's descendants in Dublin.
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