Stoker, circa 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; his death)|
|Children||Irving Noel Thornley Stoker|
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 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 Passin 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 Hungarian writer and traveller. Dracula likely emerged from Vámbéry's dark stories of the Carpathian mountains. Stoker then spent several years researching 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. "'They can't all be lying,' thinks the reader."
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.
- The Primrose Path (1875)
- The Snake's Pass (1890)
- Seven Golden Buttons (1891)
- 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 (a.k.a. The Gates of Life) (1905)
- Lady Athlyne (1908)
- The Lady of the Shroud (1909)
- The Lair of the White Worm (a.k.a. The Garden of Evil) (1911 - posthumously abridged in 1925)
Short story collections
- Under the Sunset (1881), comprising eight fairy tales for children.
- Snowbound: The Record of a Theatrical Touring Party (1908)
- Dracula's Guest and Other Weird Stories (1914)