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Bram Stoker


Bram Stoker (1847-1912), Irish theatre critic and author wrote the Gothic horror novel Dracula (1897);

"It is the eve of St. George's Day. Do you not know that tonight, when the clock strikes midnight, all the evil things in the world will have full sway?"--Ch. 1

Written in epistolary fashion, Stoker introduces us to the young solicitor Jonathan Harker as he travels to Transylvania to assist Count Dracula in a real estate transaction. While the first chapter starts off pleasantly enough, Harker soon begins to note odd happenings and details of the people and events he experiences while travelling deeper and deeper into the Carpathians. Gloomy castles standing high in the mountains, odd figures half-obscured by the dark, eerie landscapes with flashing lights, and howling wolves trail Harker as he journeys ... unaware of the mystery and horrors he and his love Mina Murray are soon to become entangled with. Only with the help of such noted characters as Professor Van Helsing, John Seward, Arthur Holmwood, and Quincey Morris does good prevail over evil.

Dracula is often referred to as the definitive vampire novel, but it is possible that Stoker was influenced by Joseph Sheridan LeFanu's (1814-1873) Gothic vampire novella Carmilla (1872). While Stoker wrote numerous novels and short stories, he is chiefly remembered today as the author of this best-selling novel. It has been translated to dozens of languages, inspired numerous other author's works, been adapted to the stage and film including the first version, Nosferatu (1922), starring Max Schreck. Dracula is still widely read and remains in print today.

Abraham "Bram" Stoker was born on 8 November 1847 in Clontarf, a suburb of Dublin, Ireland, the third of seven children--William Thornley, Mathilda, Thomas, Richard, Margaret, and George--born to Charlotte Mathilda Blake Thornely (1818-1901) and Abraham Stoker (1799-1876), Civil Servant. He was a sickly child, spending great amounts of time bed-ridden, barely able to walk. However, having fully recovered, in 1864 he entered Trinity College, Dublin to study mathematics, and, despite his earlier years of illness became involved in athletics, winning many awards. He was also elected President of the Philosophical Society. After graduating with honours in 1870 he followed in his father's footsteps and joined the Civil Service with Dublin Castle, which inspired his The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland (1879). From his great love of the arts Stoker also started to write theatre reviews for the Dublin Evening Mail. One particular review of a performance of William Shakespeare's Hamlet with actor [Sir] Henry Irving (1838-1905) in the lead role led to a great friendship between the two men and in 1878 Irving asked Stoker to be the manager of his Lyceum Theatre in London, England, a position he held for almost thirty years. Later Stoker would publish Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving (2 volumes, 1906) and Snowbound: The Record of a Theatrical Touring Party (1908) which includes such theatre-based stories as "The Slim Syrens", "Mick the Devil", and "A Star Trap".

In 1878 Stoker married actress Florence Balcombe (1858-1937) with whom he had a son, Irving Noel Thornley (1879-1961). Stoker left his job in Dublin and the couple settled in London. It was here that Stoker became acquainted with many famous actors and such other notable authors of the time as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Oscar Wilde, and William Butler Yeats. While not involved in the theatre, including travelling with them on tours in Europe and North America which inspired A Glimpse of America (1886), Stoker started to write novels including The Primrose Path (1875), The Snake's Pass (1890), The Watter's Mou' (1895), The Shoulder of Shasta (1895), Miss Betty (1898) and short stories collected in Under the Sunset (1881).

In 1890 Stoker holidayed in the North-east coast fishing village of Whitby in Yorkshire, where it is said he gleaned much inspiration for his novel Dracula. Other works by Stoker include The Mystery of the Sea (1902), his Egyptian mummy-themed The Jewel of Seven Stars (1903), The Man (also titled The Gates of Life 1905), Lady Athlyne (1908), The Lady of the Shroud (1909), Famous Impostors (1910), and The Lair of the White Worm (1911) which also includes elements found in Dracula like unseen evil, strange creatures, inexplicable events, and supernatural horrors.

The storm which was coming was already making itself manifest, not only in the wide scope of nature, but in the hearts and natures of human beings. Electrical disturbance in the sky and the air is reproduced in animals of all kinds, and particularly in the highest type of them all--the most receptive--the most electrical. So it was with Edgar Caswall, despite his selfish nature and coldness of blood. So it was with Mimi Salton, despite her unselfish, unchanging devotion for those she loved. So it was even with Lady Arabella, who, under the instincts of a primeval serpent, carried the ever-varying wishes and customs of womanhood, which is always old--and always new.--Ch. 27

Bram Stoker died in London, England on 20 April 1912. His ashes were mingled with his son's and they now rest in the Golders Green Crematorium in London, England. His wife Florence survived him by twenty-five years and had Dracula's Guest and Other Weird Stories published in 1922. Some claim that the story "Dracula's Guest" was actually supposed to be the first chapter for his novel Dracula. It also includes such titles as "The Gipsy Prophecy", "The Burial of the Rats", "A Dream of Red Hands", and "The Secret of the Growing Gold".

"We are all drifting reefwards now, and faith is our only anchor."--Ch. 23, Jonathan Harker's Journal, Dracula

Biography written by C. D. Merriman for Jalic Inc. Copyright Jalic Inc. 2008. All Rights Reserved.

The above biography is copyrighted. Do not republish it without permission.

Forum Discussions on Bram Stoker

Recent Forum Posts on Bram Stoker

Bram Stoker is responsible for creating the archetypal horror villain

I have done exstensive reading of the horror genre, and I have found that much of post Stoker horror seems to use Dracula as a template for it's villains. Dracula himself can be considered a very terrifying villain, in that he remains in the shadows for the majority of the novel, creating a sense of suspense and mystique surrounding the character. And, if one looks to more modern horror, many villains fall under this category. Take Lovecraft as an example. Lovecraft, though he deviates slightly from Stokers craft of the villain, making them into intangible monstrosities, we will usually not see the villain until the end of the piece, as his eldritch abominations often lurk just below the...

Bram Stoker Derivatives

On the basis of a new Dracula thread in General Literature, the idea came to me that we might find it interesting to look at Stoker's Gothic/Victorian template and compare it with others, like Pollidori, Viereck, and contemporary upgrades, whether it is Rice or the Radleys. I'll have to *review*, and so I may be slow, but think it worthwhile....

Was Stoker a Chauvinist?

I have recently read Dracula which of course I loved considering my interest in the Gothic, as well as my long time obsession with vampires. I thought the book was a true work of brilliancy........but to get to the topic at hand. I am currently involved in a discussion of the book with a group I belong to on Goodreads, and a few people have expressed their belief that Stoker was a chauvinist and one of the primary reasons for this opinion was because of his referral to Mina's intelligence as being "man-like." I myself simply accepted this as the general thinking of the time period. While certainly there are what can be seen as chauvinist ideas expressed within Dracula, many of these ...

collected stories

Cannot help but wonder why there is not a Collected Short Fiction of Bram Stoker, containing UNDER THE SUNSET, SNOWBOUND, DRACULA'S GUEST, and the uncollected stories (I count at least thirteen, anthologized in such books as SHADES OF DRACULA, MIDNIGHT TALES, THE BRAM STOKER BEDSIDE COMPANION, THE PRIMROSE PATH, etc.)?...

Victorian Adaptations

This is selfish, so let me just say that up front: My husband and I are taking a graduate level Victorian Adaptations course and we each have to do a 15-20 page final paper. We'd like to focus on Dracula. My husband wants to do something with The Historian and Dracula and I want to do the originary novel and the film with Keanu Reeves. Our professor suggested that our papers be somehow linked, or dependent on each other in some way. Obviously, we'll have to do a lot of research in order to come up with a general thesis, but does anyone have any ideas that we could get excited about? "Role of the Epistolary", for example, is too general, but we thought something with that. We're enti...

the snakes pass anyone?

I decided to have a prowl around the Bram Stoker section and was very surprised to find that The Snakes Pass was not here! I thuroughly enjoyed this story and have read it many times. Its not really scare more of a thrilleresque... Loosely based on legands and mythology....

Dracula would have been more..

Had Bram Stoker continued in the same vein and style as he did in the beginning of "Dracula" the book would have given me shivers throughout the reading. Regrettably, Stoker seemed to have diluted his horror and spent more time on boosting the male ego and portraying women as being nothing but the admirers of the male sex. I did enjoy the read but found it difficult to go through the last quarter with it's mushy dialogues. Why, oh why, did Stoker have to introduce Helsing as a foreigner? Couldn't a simple Englishmen have done the job? His verbosity merely added to the thickness of the book and little to make the narrative more crisp. Anybody else have the same feeling?...

The later published chapter of 'Draula'?

Can anyone tell me where to find the chapter "The count's guest" (or something like that)? It was published two years after Bram Stoker's death, by his wife. I can not find it, and I would very much like to read it, since this book is a masterpiece. As Charlotte Stoker wrote to her son, shortly after Dracula was published in 1897: "No book since Mary Shelly's Frankenstein or indeed any other at all has come near yours in originality and terror..." Hoping for an answer. Linda...

Bram Stoker: Brilliant or Psychotic?

hey guys im doing an english assignment on stoker and was wondering wat ur opinion is on the following statement "Bram Stoker: Brilliant or Psychotic?" i would just like some ideas on wat other people think plz note that i wont be using anything u have said directly in this assignment this is just a starting point for of which i realli need!!! thanx heaps...

Paul Harvey, Bram Stoker and Dracula

Is there anyone who can tell me how to find Paul Harvey's narrative on Bram Stoker and Dracula?...

The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

I am curious as to what involvement, if any, did Bram Stoker have with The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. His name seems to appear in various texts as a member yet I do not see it mentioned here on the Literature Network site....

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