Bram Stoker Biography
Bram Stoker, born Abraham Stoker, wrote Dracula as well as many other gothic horror tales. He started life as a sickly child but regained his health as an adolescent and was a good athlete at Trinity College. While working in the Irish Civil Service, he reviewed several plays and worked at the Lyceum Theatre in London, which led to his interest in writing. His novel Dracula appeared in 1897. Opponents of the book said that it recounted an “unnecessary number of hideous incidents” that could “shock and disgust” readers. Parents were warned to keep the novel away from children because of the graphic horror depicted in its pages. While Stoker’s other works were well-received at the time, they seem somewhat dated and melodramatic now. Except for Dracula, most have been forgotten.
Facts and Trivia
- Stoker’s stories are interpreted and analyzed in many different ways, but most critics agree that they all contain an element of sexual repression.
- Stoker’s depiction of the vampire legend has been the most influential, and his Dracula has become a part of mainstream culture.
- Stoker married Florence Balcombe and had one son with her. Rumor has it that he competed with Oscar Wilde for her affections.
- Stoker and the famous Victorian actor Henry Irving had a lifelong friendship. When Irving died in 1905, Stoker is said to have suffered a stroke.
- The first film adaptation of the novel Dracula was Nosferatu. Stoker’s wife sued the filmmakers, claiming she had not been asked for permission or paid royalties.
- According to the original manuscript of Dracula, the title was The Undead and the iconic vampire was originally called Count Wampyr, but Stoker changed both before the final version.
Abraham “Bram” Stoker, famous for his sensational novel, Dracula, was a sickly child, so weak that he was unable to stand up unaided until the age of seven. He outgrew his childhood weakness, however, and became a champion athlete while at Dublin University, from which he graduated in 1867. For the next ten years he worked as an Irish civil servant. From 1871 to 1876 Stoker served as an unpaid drama critic for the Dublin Mail, work which won for him the friendship of the actor Henry Irving (1838-1905). As a result of their friendship, Stoker served as Irving’s manager for many years.
After touring America with Irving, Stoker wrote a series of lectures about life in the United States to deliver to English audiences. The success of the lectures when printed in pamphlet form caused Stoker to consider other kinds of writing. Dracula appeared in 1897. The novel, written in the form of journal entries and letters, tells of the vampire Count Dracula’s attempt to spread his evil to London and his eventual defeat. The tale has been produced on stage and in several film versions. The work represents a late nineteenth century development of the earlier gothic novel, and its marked success stimulated other authors to imitate the type. Other works by Stoker worth noting are The Jewel of Seven Stars and The Lair of the White Worm, both novels, and Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving, which recounts Stoker’s life with Irving and with the Lyceum Theatre. During his last years Stoker was also on the literary staff of the London Telegraph.
Bedford, Barbara. Bram Stoker: A Biography of the Author of “Dracula.” New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996.
Hughes, William. Beyond “Dracula”: Bram Stoker’s Fiction and Its Cultural Context. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000.
Hughes, William, and Andrew Smith, eds. Bram Stoker: History, Psychoanalysis, and the Gothic. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998.
Senf, Carol A. Dracula: Between Tradition and Modernism. New York: Twayne, 1998.
Senf, Carol A, ed. The Critical Response to Bram Stoker. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1993.
Valente, Joseph. Dracula’s Crypt: Bram Stoker, Irishness, and the Question of Blood. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2002.