To fully appreciate Hellsing, you need a solid grounding in vampires and related myths. Start with Dracula. But Stoker drew ideas from earlier books, and Hellsing‘s range of sources goes beyond that.
Fortunately, most of them are old enough to be out-of-copyright.
Dracula by Bram Stoker
The classic novel; Hellsing is a direct sequel to its events. Get this in, if nothing else. Just don’t believe the ending.
Dracula’s Guest, by Bram Stoker
A short story, said by Florence Stoker to be an excised first chapter of Dracula, although scholars have since cast serious doubt on this. (Note that it’s in a very different style.) Still, it’s clear that Hirano’s seen it.
Carmilla, by J. Sheridan LeFanu
One of Stoker’s direct inspirations. Read this and you’ll be able to sort out the confused allusions in Hellsing Order 09: Red Rose Vertigo – even though the translators couldn’t.
The Vampyre, by John Polidori
The original vampire story, spawned from the same brainstorming session as Frankenstein. Featuring Lord Ruthven.
Varney the Vampire, or, The Feast of Blood by James Malcom Rymer
An 1845 penny dreadful – that is, a cheap horror publication released serially, sort of the predecessor of pulp horror comics (or soap operas). A rousing read, and popular enough that it kept going for 237 chapters.
Other Useful Texts
The Ripley Scroll
An alchemical text, lines from which are found on Alucard’s coffin. (“The bird of Hermes is my name, eating my wings to make me tame.”)
- Text & illustrations at The Alchemy Web Site
- Information at the RCPE
- Text & extended analysis at Shine
The song that Rip Van Winkle sings aboard the H.M.S. Eagle approaching London.
“Lenore” by Gottfried August Bürger
A poem which is quoted in Dracula (“Denn die Todten reiten Schnell” – “For the dead travel fast”).