Abraham "Bram" Stoker (8 November 1847 – 20 April 1912) was an Irish author, best known today for his 1897 Gothic novel Dracula. During his lifetime, he was better known as the personal assistant of actor Sir Henry Irving, and business manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London, which Irving owned.
Stoker, c. 1906
8 November 1847
Clontarf, Dublin, Ireland
|Died||20 April 1912 (aged 64)|
|Alma mater||Trinity College Dublin|
|Period||Victorian era, Edwardian era|
|Genre||Gothic fiction, romantic fiction|
|Literary movement||Dark romanticism|
|Spouse||Florence Balcombe (m. 1878–1912)|
- 1 Early life
- 2 Early career
- 3 Lyceum Theatre
- 4 Bram Stoker in Cruden Bay
- 5 Writings
- 6 Stoker at The London Library
- 7 Death
- 8 Beliefs and philosophy
- 9 Posthumous
- 10 Commemorations
- 11 Bibliography
- 12 References
- 13 External links
Stoker was born on 8 November 1847 at 15 Marino Crescent, Clontarf, on the northside of Dublin, Ireland. His parents were Abraham Stoker (1799–1876) from Dublin and Charlotte Mathilda Blake Thornley (1818–1901), who was raised in County Sligo. Stoker was the third of seven children, the eldest of whom was Sir Thornley Stoker, 1st Bt.. Abraham and Charlotte were members of the Church of Ireland Parish of Clontarf and attended the parish church with their children, who were baptised there, and Abraham was a senior civil servant.
Stoker was bedridden with an unknown illness until he started school at the age of seven, when he made a complete recovery. Of this time, Stoker wrote, "I was naturally thoughtful, and the leisure of long illness gave opportunity for many thoughts which were fruitful according to their kind in later years." He was educated in a private school run by the Rev. William Woods.
After his recovery, he grew up without further serious illnesses, even excelling as an athlete (he was named University Athlete, participating in multiple sports) at Trinity College, Dublin, which he attended from 1864 to 1870. He graduated with a BA in 1870, and pursued his MA in 1875. Though he later in life recalled graduating "with honours in mathematics," this appears to have been a mistake. He was auditor of the College Historical Society (the Hist) and president of the University Philosophical Society, where his first paper was on Sensationalism in Fiction and Society.
Stoker became interested in the theatre while a student through his friend Dr. Maunsell. While working for the Irish Civil Service, he became the theatre critic for the Dublin Evening Mail, which was co-owned by Sheridan Le Fanu, an author of Gothic tales. Theatre critics were held in low esteem, but he attracted notice by the quality of his reviews. In December 1876, he gave a favourable review of Henry Irving's Hamlet at the Theatre Royal in Dublin. Irving invited Stoker for dinner at the Shelbourne Hotel where he was staying, and they became friends. Stoker also wrote stories, and "The Crystal Cup" was published by the London Society in 1872, followed by "The Chain of Destiny" in four parts in The Shamrock. In 1876 while a civil servant in Dublin, Stoker wrote the non-fiction book The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland (published 1879) which remained a standard work. Furthermore, he possessed an interest in art, and was a founder of the Dublin Sketching Club in 1879.
In 1878 Stoker married Florence Balcombe, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel James Balcombe of 1 Marino Crescent. She was a celebrated beauty whose former suitor had been Oscar Wilde. Stoker had known Wilde from his student days, having proposed him for membership of the university's Philosophical Society while he was president. Wilde was upset at Florence's decision, but Stoker later resumed the acquaintanceship, and after Wilde's fall visited him on the Continent.
The Stokers moved to London, where Stoker became acting manager and then business manager of Irving's Lyceum Theatre, London, a post he held for 27 years. On 31 December 1879, Bram and Florence's only child was born, a son whom they christened Irving Noel Thornley Stoker. The collaboration with Henry Irving was important for Stoker and through him he became involved in London's high society, where he met James Abbott McNeill Whistler and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (to whom he was distantly related). Working for Irving, the most famous actor of his time, and managing one of the most successful theatres in London made Stoker a notable if busy man. He was dedicated to Irving and his memoirs show he idolised him. In London, Stoker also met Hall Caine, who became one of his closest friends – he dedicated Dracula to him.
In the course of Irving's tours, Stoker travelled the world, although he never visited Eastern Europe, a setting for his most famous novel. Stoker enjoyed the United States, where Irving was popular. With Irving he was invited twice to the White House, and knew William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. Stoker set two of his novels in America, and used Americans as characters, the most notable being Quincey Morris. He also met one of his literary idols, Walt Whitman.
Bram Stoker in Cruden Bay
Stoker was a regular visitor to Cruden Bay in Scotland between 1893 and 1910. His month-long holidays to the Aberdeenshire coastal village provided a large portion of available time for writing his books. Two novels were set in Cruden Bay: The Watter's Mou' (1895) and The Mystery of the Sea (1902). He started writing Dracula here in 1895 while in residence at the Kilmarnock Arms Hotel. The guest book with his signatures from 1894 and 1895 still survives. The nearby Slains Castle (also known as New Slains Castle) is linked with Bram Stoker and plausibly provided the visual palette for the descriptions of Castle Dracula during the writing phase. A distinctive room in Slains Castle, the octagonal hall, matches the description of the octagonal room in Castle Dracula.
Stoker visited the English coastal town of Whitby in 1890, and that visit was said to be part of the inspiration for Dracula. He began writing novels while working as manager for Henry Irving and secretary and director of London's Lyceum Theatre, beginning with The Snake's Pass in 1890 and Dracula in 1897. During this period, Stoker was part of the literary staff of The Daily Telegraph in London, and he wrote other fiction, including the horror novels The Lady of the Shroud (1909) and The Lair of the White Worm (1911). He published his Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving in 1906, after Irving's death, which proved successful, and managed productions at the Prince of Wales Theatre.
Before writing Dracula, Stoker met Ármin Vámbéry, a Slovak-Jewish writer and traveller (born in Szent-György, Kingdom of Hungary now Svätý Jur, Slovakia),. Dracula likely emerged from Vámbéry's dark stories of the Carpathian mountains. Stoker then spent several years researching Central and East European folklore and mythological stories of vampires.
The 1972 book In Search of Dracula by Radu Florescu and Raymond McNally claimed that the Count in Stoker's novel was based on Vlad III Dracula. At most however, Stoker borrowed only the name and "scraps of miscellaneous information" about Romanian history, according to one expert, Elizabeth Miller; further, there are no comments about Vlad III in the author's working notes.
Dracula is an epistolary novel, written as a collection of realistic but completely fictional diary entries, telegrams, letters, ship's logs, and newspaper clippings, all of which added a level of detailed realism to the story, a skill which Stoker had developed as a newspaper writer. At the time of its publication, Dracula was considered a "straightforward horror novel" based on imaginary creations of supernatural life. "It gave form to a universal fantasy ... and became a part of popular culture."
Stoker was a deeply private man, but his almost sexless marriage, intense adoration of Walt Whitman, Henry Irving and Hall Caine, and shared interests with Oscar Wilde, as well as the homoerotic aspects of Dracula have led to scholarly speculation that he was a repressed homosexual who used his fiction as an outlet for his sexual frustrations. In 1912, he demanded imprisonment of all homosexual authors in Britain: it has been suggested that this was due to self-loathing and to disguise his own vulnerability. Possibly fearful, and inspired by the monstrous image and threat of otherness that the press coverage of his friend Oscar's trials generated, Stoker began writing Dracula only weeks after Wilde's conviction.
According to the Encyclopedia of World Biography, Stoker's stories are today included in the categories of "horror fiction", "romanticized Gothic" stories, and "melodrama." They are classified alongside other "works of popular fiction" such as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein,:394 which also used the "myth-making" and story-telling method of having multiple narrators telling the same tale from different perspectives. According to historian Jules Zanger, this leads the reader to the assumption that "they can't all be lying".
The original 541-page typescript of Dracula was believed to have been lost until it was found in a barn in northwestern Pennsylvania in the early 1980s. It consisted of typed sheets with many emendations and handwritten on the title page was "THE UN-DEAD." The author's name was shown at the bottom as Bram Stoker. Author Robert Latham remarked: "the most famous horror novel ever published, its title changed at the last minute." The typescript was purchased by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
Stoker's inspirations for the story, in addition to Whitby, may have included a visit to Slains Castle in Aberdeenshire, a visit to the crypts of St. Michan's Church in Dublin, and the novella Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu.
Stoker's original research notes for the novel are kept by the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia. A facsimile edition of the notes was created by Elizabeth Miller and Robert Eighteen-Bisang in 1998.
Stoker at The London Library
Stoker was a member of The London Library and it is here that he conducted much of the research for Dracula. In 2018 the Library discovered some of the books that Stoker used for his research, complete with notes and marginalia.
After suffering a number of strokes, Stoker died at No. 26 St George's Square, London on 20 April 1912. Some biographers attribute the cause of death to tertiary syphilis, others to overwork. He was cremated, and his ashes were placed in a display urn at Golders Green Crematorium in north London. The ashes of Irving Noel Stoker, the author's son, were added to his father's urn following his death in 1961. The original plan had been to keep his parents' ashes together, but after Florence Stoker's death, her ashes were scattered at the Gardens of Rest.
Beliefs and philosophy
Stoker was raised a Protestant in the Church of Ireland. He was a strong supporter of the Liberal Party and took a keen interest in Irish affairs. As a "philosophical home ruler," he supported Home Rule for Ireland brought about by peaceful means. He remained an ardent monarchist who believed that Ireland should remain within the British Empire, an entity that he saw as a force for good. He was an admirer of Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, whom he knew personally, and supported his plans for Ireland.
Stoker believed in progress and took a keen interest in science and science-based medicine. Some Stoker novels represent early examples of science fiction, such as The Lady of the Shroud (1909). He had a writer's interest in the occult, notably mesmerism, but despised fraud and believed in the superiority of the scientific method over superstition. Stoker counted among his friends J.W. Brodie-Innis, a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and hired member Pamela Colman Smith as an artist for the Lyceum Theatre, but no evidence suggests that Stoker ever joined the Order himself. Although Irving was an active Freemason, no evidence has been found of Stoker taking part in Masonic activities in London. The Grand Lodge of Ireland also has no record of his membership.
The short story collection Dracula's Guest and Other Weird Stories was published in 1914 by Stoker's widow, Florence Stoker, who was also his literary executrix. The first film adaptation of Dracula was F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu, released in 1922, with Max Schreck starring as Count Orlok. Florence Stoker eventually sued the filmmakers, and was represented by the attorneys of the British Incorporated Society of Authors. Her chief legal complaint was that she had neither been asked for permission for the adaptation nor paid any royalty. The case dragged on for some years, with Mrs. Stoker demanding the destruction of the negative and all prints of the film. The suit was finally resolved in the widow's favour in July 1925. A single print of the film survived, however, and it has become well known. The first authorised film version of Dracula did not come about until almost a decade later when Universal Studios released Tod Browning's Dracula starring Bela Lugosi.
Canadian writer Dacre Stoker, a great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker, decided to write "a sequel that bore the Stoker name" to "reestablish creative control over" the original novel, with encouragement from screenwriter Ian Holt, because of the Stokers' frustrating history with Dracula's copyright. In 2009, Dracula: The Un-Dead was released, written by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt. Both writers "based [their work] on Bram Stoker's own handwritten notes for characters and plot threads excised from the original edition" along with their own research for the sequel. This also marked Dacre Stoker's writing debut.
In Spring 2012, Dacre Stoker (in collaboration with Prof. Elizabeth Miller) presented the "lost" Dublin Journal written by Bram Stoker, which had been kept by his great-grandson Noel Dobbs. Stoker's diary entries shed a light on the issues that concerned him before his London years. A remark about a boy who caught flies in a bottle might be a clue for the later development of the Renfield character in Dracula.
An annual festival takes place in Dublin, the birthplace of Bram Stoker, in honour of his literary achievements. The 2014 Bram Stoker Festival encompassed literary, film, family, street, and outdoor events, and ran from 24–27 October in and around Dublin City. The festival is supported by the Bram Stoker Estate and funded by Dublin City Council and Fáilte Ireland.
- The Primrose Path (1875)
- The Snake's Pass (1890)
- The Watter's Mou' (1895)
- The Shoulder of Shasta (1895)
- Dracula (1897)
- Miss Betty (1898)
- The Mystery of the Sea (1902)
- The Jewel of Seven Stars (1903, revised 1912)
- The Man (1905); issued also as The Gates of Life
- Lady Athlyne (1908)
- The Lady of the Shroud (1909)
- The Lair of the White Worm (1911, posthumously abridged 1925); issued also as The Garden of Evil
- Seven Golden Buttons (written in 1891, much material reused in Miss Betty; posthumously published in 2015)
Short story collections
- Under the Sunset (1881) – eight fairy tales for children
- Snowbound: The Record of a Theatrical Touring Party (1908)
- Dracula's Guest and Other Weird Stories (1914)
|Title||Date of earliest appearance||Earliest appearance||Novelisation|
|"The Crystal Cup"||xx/09/1872||London Society (London)|
|"Buried Treasures"||13 March 1875 and 20 March 1875||The Shamrock (Dublin)|
|"The Chain of Destiny"||1 May 1875 and 22 May 1875||The Shamrock (Dublin)|
|"The Dualitists; or, The Death Doom of the Double Born"||xx/xx/1887||The Theatre Annual (London)|
|"The Gombeen Man"||xx/xx/1889 – xx/xx/1890||The People (London)||Chapter 3 of The Snake's Pass|
|"Lucky Escapes of Sir Henry Irving"||xx/xx/1890|
|"The Night of the Shifting Bog"||xx/01/1891||Current Literature: A Magazine of Record and Review Vol. VI. No. 1. (New York)|
|"Lord Castleton Explains"||30 January 1892||The Gentlewoman: The Illustrated Weekly Journal for Gentlewomen (London)||Chapter 10 of The Fate of Fenella (Hutchinson, 1892)|
|"Old Hoggen: A Mystery"||xx/xx/1893|
|"The Man from Shorrox"||xx/02/1894||The Pall Mall Magazine (London)|
|"The Red Stockade"||xx/09/1894||The Cosmopolitan: An Illustrated Monthly Magazine (London)|
|"When the Sky Rains Gold"||xx/xx/1894|
|"At the Watter's Mou"||xx/11/1895||Current Literature: A Magazine of Record and Review Vol. XVIII. No. 5. (New York)|
|"Our New House"||20 December 1895||Boston Herald (Boston)|
|"A Yellow Duster"||7 May 1899||Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper (London)|
|"A Young Widow"||xx/xx/1899|
|"A Baby Passenger"||xx/xx/1899|
|"The Seer"||xx/xx/1902||The Mystery of the Sea (New York: Doubleday, Page & Co.)||Chapters 1 and 2 of The Mystery of the Sea|
|"The Bridal of Death"||xx/xx/1903||The Jewel of the Seven Stars (London: William Heinemann)||Alternate ending to The Jewel of Seven Stars|
|"What They Confessed: A Low Comedian's Story"||xx/xx/1908|
|"The Way of Peace"||xx/xx/1909||Everybody's Story Magazine (London)|
|"The 'Eroes of the Thames"||xx/10/1908||The Royal Magazine (London)|
|"Greater Love"||xx/10/1914||The London Magazine (London)|
- The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland (1879)
- A Glimpse of America (1886)
- Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving (1906)
- Famous Impostors (1910)
- Great Ghost Stories (1998) (Compiled by Peter Glassman, Illustrated by Barry Moser)
- Bram Stoker's Notes for Dracula: A Facsimile Edition (2008) Bram Stoker Annotated and Transcribed by Robert Eighteen-Bisang and Elizabeth Miller, Foreword by Michael Barsanti. Jefferson, NC & London: McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-3410-7
- "The Question of a National Theatre" The Nineteenth Century and After, Vol. LXIII, January/June 1908.
- "Mr. De Morgan's Habits of Work" The World's Work, Vol. XVI, May/October 1908.
- "The Censorship of Fiction" The Nineteenth Century and After, Vol. LXIV, July/December 1908.
- "The Censorship of Stage Plays" The Nineteenth Century and After, Vol. LXVI, July/December 1909.
- "Irving and Stage Lightning" The Nineteenth Century and After, Vol. LXIX, January/June 1911.
Critical works on Stoker
- William Hughes, Beyond Dracula (Palgrave, 2000) ISBN 0-312-23136-9
- Belford, Barbara. Bram Stoker: A Biography of the Author of Dracula. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1996.
- Senf, Carol. Science and Social Science in Bram Stoker's Fiction (Greenwood, 2002).
- Senf, Carol. Dracula: Between Tradition and Modernism (Twayne, 1998).
- Senf, Carol A. Bram Stoker (University of Wales Press, 2010). Shepherd, Mike. When Brave Men Shudder: the Scottish origins of Dracula (Wild Wolf Publishing 2018)
- Shepherd, Mike. When Brave Men Shudder: the Scottish origins of Dracula (Wild Wolf Publishing, 2018)
- Skal, David J. Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker (Liveright, 2016)
- William Hughes Bram Stoker – Victorian Fiction Research Guide
- Belford, Barbara (2002). Bram Stoker and the Man Who Was Dracula. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Da Capo Press. p. 17. ISBN 978-0-306-81098-5.
- Murray, Paul (2004). From the Shadow of Dracula: A Life of Bram Stoker. Random House. p. 11. ISBN 978-0224044622.
- His siblings were: Sir (William) Thornley Stoker, born in 1845; Mathilda, born 1846; Thomas, born 1850; Richard, born 1852; Margaret, born 1854; and George, born 1855
- "Stoker Family Tree" (PDF). 2012.
- Obituary, Irish Times, 23 April 1912
- Bram Stoker (1847-1912) Trinity College Dublin Writers by Jarlath Killeen
- History.com Editors (21 August 2018). "Dracula creator Bram Stoker born". HIstory.com. A&E Television Networks. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
He then worked for the Irish Civil Service while writing theater reviews for a Dublin newspaper on the side.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
- Irish Times, 8 March 1882, p. 5
- "Why Dracula never loses his bite". Irish Times. 28 March 2009.
- Shepherd, Mike (2018). When Brave Men Shudder; the Scottish origins of Dracula. Wild Wolf Publishing.
- Encyclopedia of World Biography, Gale Research (1998) vol 8. pp. 461–464
- "Vampires – Top 10 Famous Mysterious Monsters". Tone.com. 14 August 2009.
- Lizzie Dearden (20 May 2014). "Radu Florescu dead: Legacy of the Romanian 'Dracula professor' remembered". The Independent. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
- Jimmie e. Cain, Jr (4 April 2006). Bram Stoker and Russophobia: Evidence of the British Fear of Russia in Dracula and the Lady of the Shroud. p. 182. ISBN 978-0786424078.
- Miller, Elizabeth (22 March 2005). A Dracula Handbook. pp. 112–113. ISBN 978-1465334008.
- Light, Duncan (23 March 2016). The Dracula Dilemma: Tourism, Identity and the State in Romania. ISBN 978-1317035312.
- Skal, David J Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, Liveright, 2016, p. 564;  "Coming Out Of The Coffin", The New Inquiry, 24 August 2012
-  "Coming Out Of The Coffin", The New Inquiry, 24 August 2012
- Schaffer, Talia "A Wilde Desire Took Me: The Homoerotic History of Dracula", ELH, Vol. 61, No. 2 (Summer, 1994), pp. 381–425
- Latham, Robert. Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Review Annual, Greenwood Publishing (1988) p. 67
- Zanger, Jules. Blood Read: The Vampire as Metaphor in Contemporary Culture ed. Joan Gordon. Univ. of Pennsylvania Press (1997), pp. 17–24
- John J. Miller (28 October 2008). "What a Tax Lawyer Dug Up on 'Dracula'". WSJ.
- Boylan, Henry (1998). A Dictionary of Irish Biography, 3rd Edition. Dublin: Gill and MacMillan. p. 412. ISBN 978-0-7171-2945-4.
- "The Books That Made Dracula". The London Library. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
- "Latest News". The London Library. 15 January 2019. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
- "Bram Stoker". Victorian Web. 30 April 2008. Retrieved 12 December 2008.
- Gibson, Peter (1985). The Capital Companion. Webb & Bower. pp. 365–366. ISBN 978-0-86350-042-8.
- The Discussion (Third ed.). Grade Eight – Bram Stoker: Oberon Books (for The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art). 2004. p. 97. ISBN 978-1-84002-431-9.
- Murray, Paul. From the Shadow of Dracula: A Life of Bram Stoker. 2004.
- "Shadowplay Pagan and Magick webzine – Hermetic Horrors". Shadowplayzine.com. 16 September 1904. Archived from the original on 9 November 2009. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
- Ravenscroft, Trevor (1982). The occult power behind the spear which pierced the side of Christ. Red Wheel. p. 165. ISBN 978-0-87728-547-2.
- Picknett, Lynn (2004). The Templar Revelation: Secret Guardians of the True Identity of Christ. Simon and Schuster. p. 201. ISBN 978-0-7432-7325-1.
- "The Ripper and The Lyceum: The Significance of Irving's Freemasonry". Retrieved 4 June 2019. John Pickamp; Robert Protheroug ‘The Ripper and The Lyceum: The Significance of Irving’s Freemasonry ’ The Irving Society website
- Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon - Bram Stoker
- Dracula: The Un-Dead by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt
- Dracula: The Undeads overview
- Stoker, Bram. Bram Stoker’s Lost Dublin Journal, ed. by Stoker, Dacre and Miller, Elizabeth. London: Biteback Press, 2012
- "Bram Stoker's 165th Birthday".
- Doyle, Carmel (8 November 2012). "Bram Stoker books: gothic Google Doodle honours Dracula author". Silicon Republic. Retrieved 8 November 2012.
- "Bram Stoker Festival 28–31 Oct 2016, Day & Night Events". Bram Stoker Festival 2015.
- "What's on in Dublin – Dublin Events, Festivals, Concerts, Theatre, family events". Visit Dublin.
- "The Bram Stoker Festival in Dublin – 2013 Events".
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 24 November 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Works by Bram Stoker at Project Gutenberg
- Works by Bram Stoker at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)