Abraham Bram Stoker
( 8 November 1847 – 20 April
1912 ) was an Irish writer of novels and short stories, who is best known
today for his 1897 horror novel Dracula. During his
lifetime, he was better known for being the personal assistant of the
actor Henry Irving and the business manager of the Lyceum Theatre in
London, which Irving owned.
Bram Stoker was born in 1847 at 15 Marino Crescent, located
today in Fairview, but then in Clontarf, Dublin, Ireland. His parents
were Abraham Stoker (1799-1876) and the feminist Charlotte Mathilda
Blake Thornely (1818-1901). Stoker was the third of seven children.
Abraham and Charlotte were members of the Clontarf Church of Ireland
parish and attended the parish church of St. John the Baptist located on Seafield Road West with their children, who were both baptised there.
was a sick child and bed-ridden until he started school at the
age of seven, when he made a complete recovery. Of this time, Stoker
"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."
After his recovery, he became a normal young man, even
excelling as an athlete (he was named University Athlete) at Trinity
College, Dublin , which he attended from 1864 to 1870. He graduated with
honours in mathematics. He was auditor of the College Historical Society
and president of the University Philosophical Society, where his first
paper was on "Sensationalism in Fiction and Society".
In 1876, while employed as a civil servant in Dublin,
Stoker wrote a non-fiction book (The Duties of Clerks of Petty
Sessions in Ireland, published 1879) and became the theatre critic
for the newspaper Dublin Evening Mail. In December 1876, he gave
a favourable review of the actor
Henry Irving performance as Hamlet
at the Theatre Royal in Dublin. Henry Irving read the review and invited
Stoker for dinner at the Shelbourne Hotel, where he was staying. After
that they became friends. He also wrote stories and in 1872 "The
Crystal Cup" was published by the London Society, followed by "The Chain
of Destiny" in four parts in The Shamrock.
In 1878 Stoker married Florence Balcombe, a celebrated
beauty whose former suitor was
The couple moved to London,
where Stoker became acting-manager and then business manager of Henry Irving's
Lyceum Theatre, a post he held for 27 years. On 31 December 1879, Bram
and Florence's only child was born, a son that they christened Irving
Noel Thornley Stoker. The collaboration with Henry Irving was very important
for Stoker and through him he became involved in London's high society,
where he met, among other notables, James McNeil Whistler and Sir Arthur
Conan Doyle (to whom he was distantly related). In the course of
Henry Irving's tours, Stoker got the chance to travel around the world. In the
mid 1890s, Stoker is rumoured to have become a member of the Hermetic
Order of the Golden Dawn, though there is no concrete evidence to
support this claim. One of Stoker's closest friends was J.W.
Brodie-Innis, a major figure in the Order and Stoker himself hired
Pamela Coleman Smith, as an artist at the Lyceum Theatre.
Stoker supplemented his income by writing novels.
best known being the vampire tale called Dracula which was published in
1897. Before writing Dracula, Stoker spent eight years
researching European folklore and stories of vampires. Dracula is
an epistolary novel, written as collection of diary entries, telegrams,
and letters from the characters within his book, as well as fictional clippings from the
Whitby and London newspapers. One of Bram Stoker's many inspirations for
the story of Dracula was a
visit to Slains Castle in Aberdeenshire; a visit to the crypts under the
church St. John the Baptist where Stoker was baptised; a holiday in the
fishing and seaside resort of Whitby that went on to last several years
stay there, where the prominent church and graveyard of St Mary`s
casting eerie shadows over the town; the whalers and fisher folk telling
mysterious tales and the shipwreck of the Dimitris landing on Tate Hill
beach with only one sailor surviving the terrible storm strapped to the
shipswheel, all inspired thoughts for his book of the undead "Dracula"
Bram Stoker died in 1912, cremated and his
ashes placed in a display urn at Golders Green Crematorium. After Irving
Noel Stoker's death in 1961, his ashes were added to that urn. 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.