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Bram Stoker

Author of Dracula - a Story of the un-dead

Bram Stoker


Bram Stoker, born in Dublin in the year 1847, had a very troubled childhood, riddled with illness and suffering from a late development to speech. Bram Stoker went on to become a highly popular member of "Trinity College", where he was also a very successful sportsman.
His first working duty was as a civil servant, moving on to become a journalist. However, after seeing the actor Henry Irving act on one of his tours of Ireland, Bram Stoker became the manager of the Lyceum in London, shortly after his marriage to Florence in 1876. Bram Stoker remained there throughout his career and it was his careful management, providing a contrast to Henry Irving's theatrical excesses, that was probably a major reason for the Lyceum's success.
Bram Stoker wrote a number of short stories and gothic novels, but surely is remembered for only one, that of his tale of the undead, Vampires and the blood thirsty horror story of  " Dracula "  published in 1897.

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.

Bram Stoker 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 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."

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 Oscar Wilde. 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. The 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.


Oscar Wilde  Oscar Wilde

Another educated at "Trinity College", was the poet  Oscar Wilde, who met Bram Stoker on numerous occasions, before Bram Stoker left for his post in London. Florence Stoker was Oscar Wilde`s first lady friend who enjoyed his poetry and he and Bram Stoker continued to cross paths, if not crossing swords, throughout the latter years of the nineteenth century.

Henry Irving  Sir Henry Irving

Bram Stokers association and working career with actor  Henry Irving, whom later became Sir Henry Irving, was a very hard one. It is a wonder Bram Stoker found the time and energy to write all these short stories let alone write the horror novel, including the blockbuster Dracula and therefore not too surprising the man is said to have died from exhaustion in 1912.