Bram Stoker

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Bram Stoker
Bram Stoker 1906.jpg
Stoker c.1906
Born(1847-11-08)8 November 1847
Clontarf, Dublin, Ireland
Died20 April 1912(1912-04-20) (aged 64)
Pimlico, London, England
Alma mater Trinity College Dublin
Period Victorian era, Edwardian era
Genre Gothic fiction, romantic fiction
Literary movement Dark romanticism
Notable works Dracula
(m. 1878)
Bram Stoker signature.svg

Abraham Stoker (8 November 1847 – 20 April 1912) was an Irish author who is celebrated for his 1897 Gothic horror 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, which Irving owned. In his early years, Stoker worked as a theatre critic for an Irish newspaper, and wrote stories as well as commentaries. He also enjoyed travelling, particularly to Cruden Bay where he set two of his novels. During another visit to the English coastal town of Whitby, Stoker drew inspiration for writing Dracula. He died on 20 April 1912 due to locomotor ataxia and was cremated in north London. Since his death, his magnum opus Dracula has become one of the most well-known works in English literature, and the novel has been adapted for numerous films, short stories, and plays. [1]


Early life

Stoker was born on 8 November 1847 at 15 Marino Crescent, Clontarf, on the northside of Dublin, Ireland. [2] The park adjacent to the house is now known as Bram Stoker Park. [3] His parents were Abraham Stoker (1799–1876) from Dublin and Charlotte Mathilda Blake Thornley (1818–1901), who was raised in County Sligo. [4] Stoker was the third of seven children, the eldest of whom was Sir Thornley Stoker, 1st Bt. [5] Abraham and Charlotte were members of the Church of Ireland Parish of Clontarf and attended the parish church with their children, who were baptised there. [6] Abraham was a senior civil servant.

Stoker was bedridden with an unknown illness 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." He was privately educated at Bective House school run by the Reverend (William Woods). [7] [8]

After his recovery, he grew up without further serious illnesses, even excelling as an athlete at Trinity College, Dublin, which he attended from 1864 to 1870. He graduated with a BA in 1870, and pursued his MA in 1875. Though he later in life recalled graduating "with honours in mathematics", this appears to have been a mistake. [9] He was named University Athlete, participating in multiple sports, including playing rugby for Dublin University. He was auditor of the College Historical Society (the Hist) and president of the University Philosophical Society (he remains the only student in Trinity's history to hold both positions), where his first paper was on Sensationalism in Fiction and Society.

Early career

Stoker became interested in the theatre while a student through his friend Dr. Maunsell. While working for the Irish Civil Service, he became the theatre critic for the Dublin Evening Mail , [10] which was co-owned by Sheridan Le Fanu, an author of Gothic tales. Theatre critics were held in low esteem at the time, but Stoker attracted notice by the quality of his reviews. In December 1876, he gave a favourable review of Henry Irving's Hamlet at the Theatre Royal in Dublin. Irving invited Stoker for dinner at the Shelbourne Hotel where he was staying, and they became friends. Stoker also wrote stories, and "Crystal Cup" was published by the London Society in 1872, followed by "The Chain of Destiny" in four parts in The Shamrock. In 1876, while a civil servant in Dublin, Stoker wrote the non-fiction book The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland (published 1879), which remained a standard work. [7] Furthermore, he possessed an interest in art and was a founder of the Dublin Sketching Club in 1879.

Lyceum Theatre

Bram Stoker's former home featuring a commemorative plaque, Kildare Street, Dublin Bram Stoker's Home.jpg
Bram Stoker's former home featuring a commemorative plaque, Kildare Street, Dublin

In 1878, Stoker married Florence Balcombe, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel James Balcombe of 1 Marino Crescent. She was a celebrated beauty whose former suitor had been Oscar Wilde. [11] Stoker had known Wilde from his student days, having proposed him for membership of the university's Philosophical Society while he was president. Wilde was upset at Florence's decision, but Stoker later resumed the acquaintanceship, and, after Wilde's fall, visited him on the Continent. [12]

The first edition cover of Dracula Dracula-First-Edition-1897.jpg
The first edition cover of Dracula

The Stokers moved to London, where Stoker became acting manager and then business manager of Irving's Lyceum Theatre, London, a post he held for 27 years. On 31 December 1879, Bram and Florence's only child was born, a son whom they christened Irving Noel Thornley Stoker. The collaboration with Henry Irving was important for Stoker and through him, he became involved in London's high society, where he met James Abbott McNeill Whistler and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (to whom he was distantly related). Working for Irving, the most famous actor of his time, and managing one of the most successful theatres in London made Stoker a notable if busy man. He was dedicated to Irving and his memoirs show he idolised him. In London, Stoker also met Hall Caine, who became one of his closest friends – he dedicated Dracula to him.

In the course of Irving's tours, Stoker travelled the world, although he never visited Eastern Europe, a setting for his most famous novel. Stoker enjoyed the United States, where Irving was popular. With Irving he was invited twice to the White House, and knew William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. Stoker set two of his novels in America, and used Americans as characters, the most notable being Quincey Morris. He also met one of his literary idols, Walt Whitman, having written to him in 1872 an extraordinary letter [13] that some have interpreted as the expression of a deeply-suppressed homosexuality. [14] [15]

Bram Stoker in Cruden Bay

Slains Castle, Cruden Bay. The early chapters of Dracula were written in Cruden Bay, and Slains Castle possibly provided visual inspiration for Bram Stoker during the writing phase. SlainsCastleCrudenBay.jpg
Slains Castle, Cruden Bay. The early chapters of Dracula were written in Cruden Bay, and Slains Castle possibly provided visual inspiration for Bram Stoker during the writing phase.

Stoker was a regular visitor to Cruden Bay in Scotland between 1892 and 1910. His month-long holidays to the Aberdeenshire coastal village provided a large portion of available time for writing his books. Two novels were set in Cruden Bay: The Watter's Mou' (1895) and The Mystery of the Sea (1902). He started writing Dracula there in 1895 while in residence at the Kilmarnock Arms Hotel. The guest book with his signatures from 1894 and 1895 still survives. The nearby Slains Castle (also known as New Slains Castle) is linked with Bram Stoker and plausibly provided the visual palette for the descriptions of Castle Dracula during the writing phase. A distinctive room in Slains Castle, the octagonal hall, matches the description of the octagonal room in Castle Dracula. [16]


Bram Stoker Commemorative Plaque, Whitby, England Bram Stoker Plaque Whitby England.jpg
Bram Stoker Commemorative Plaque, Whitby, England

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 Irving and secretary and director of London's Lyceum Theatre, beginning with The Snake's Pass in 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). [17] He published his Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving in 1906, after Irving's death, which proved successful, [7] and managed productions at the Prince of Wales Theatre.

Before writing Dracula, Stoker met Ármin Vámbéry, a Hungarian-Jewish writer and traveller (born in Szent-György, Kingdom of Hungary now Svätý Jur, Slovakia). Dracula likely emerged from Vámbéry's dark stories of the Carpathian mountains. [18] However this claim has been challenged by many including Elizabeth Miller, a professor who, since 1990, has had as her major field of research and writing Dracula, and its author, sources, and influences. She has stated, “The only comment about the subject matter of the talk was that Vambery 'spoke loudly against Russian aggression.'" There had been nothing in their conversations about the "tales of the terrible Dracula" that are supposed to have "inspired Stoker to equate his vampire-protagonist with the long-dead tyrant." At any rate, by this time, Stoker's novel was well underway, and he was already using the name Dracula for his vampire. [19] Stoker then spent several years researching Central and East 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. [20] However, according to Elizabeth Miller, Stoker borrowed only the name and "scraps of miscellaneous information" about Romanian history; further, there are no comments about Vlad III in the author's working notes. [21] [22] [23]

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. [17] "It gave form to a universal fantasy ... and became a part of popular culture." [17]

According to the Encyclopedia of World Biography, Stoker's stories are today included in the categories of horror fiction, romanticized Gothic stories, and melodrama. [17] They are classified alongside other works of popular fiction, such as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein , 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, this leads the reader to the assumption that "they can't all be lying". [24]

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. [25] 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." [26] 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. [27]

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.

Stoker at The London Library

Stoker was a member of The London Library and conducted much of the research for Dracula there. [28] In 2018, the Library discovered some of the books that Stoker used for his research, complete with notes and marginalia. [29]


Urn which contains Stoker's ashes in Golders Green Crematorium Golders Green crematorium (pictures) 002.jpg
Urn which contains Stoker's ashes in Golders Green Crematorium

After suffering a number of strokes, Stoker died at No. 26 St George's Square, London on 20 April 1912. [30] Some biographers attribute the cause of death to overwork, [31] others to tertiary syphilis. [32] His death certificate listed the cause of death as "Locomotor ataxia 6 months", presumed to be a reference to syphilis. [33] [34] He was cremated, and his ashes were placed in a display urn at Golders Green Crematorium in north London. The ashes of Irving Noel Stoker, the author's son, were added to his father's urn following his death in 1961. 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.

Beliefs and philosophy

Stoker was raised a Protestant in the Church of Ireland. He was a strong supporter of the Liberal Party and took a keen interest in Irish affairs. [7] As a "philosophical home ruler", he supported Home Rule for Ireland brought about by peaceful means. He remained an ardent monarchist who believed that Ireland should remain within the British Empire, an entity that he saw as a force for good. He was an admirer of Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, whom he knew personally, and supported his plans for Ireland. [35]

Stoker believed in progress and took a keen interest in science and science-based medicine. Some of Stoker's novels represent early examples of science fiction, such as The Lady of the Shroud (1909). He had a writer's interest in the occult, notably mesmerism, but despised fraud and believed in the superiority of the scientific method over superstition. Stoker counted among his friends J. W. Brodie-Innis, a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and hired member Pamela Colman Smith as an artist for the Lyceum Theatre, but no evidence suggests that Stoker ever joined the Order himself. [36] [37] [38] Although Irving was an active Freemason, no evidence has been found of Stoker taking part in Masonic activities in London. [39] The Grand Lodge of Ireland also has no record of his membership. [40]


The short story collection Dracula's Guest and Other Weird Stories was published in 1914 by Stoker's widow, Florence Stoker, who was also his literary executrix. The first film adaptation of Dracula was F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu , released in 1922, with Max Schreck starring as Count Orlok. Florence Stoker eventually sued the filmmakers, and was represented by the attorneys of the British Incorporated Society of Authors. Her chief legal complaint was that she had neither been asked for permission for the adaptation nor paid any royalty. The case dragged on for some years, with Mrs. Stoker demanding the destruction of the negative and all prints of the film. The suit was finally resolved in the widow's favour in July 1925. A single print of the film survived, however, and it has become well known. The first authorised film version of Dracula did not come about until almost a decade later when Universal Studios released Tod Browning's Dracula starring Bela Lugosi.

Dacre Stoker

Canadian writer Dacre Stoker, a great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker, decided to write "a sequel that bore the Stoker name" to "reestablish creative control over" the original novel, with encouragement from screenwriter Ian Holt, because of the Stokers' frustrating history with Dracula's copyright. In 2009, Dracula: The Un-Dead was released, written by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt. Both writers "based [their work] on Bram Stoker's own handwritten notes for characters and plot threads excised from the original edition" along with their own research for the sequel. This also marked Dacre Stoker's writing debut. [41] [42]

In spring 2012, Dacre Stoker (in collaboration with Elizabeth Miller) presented the "lost" Dublin Journal written by Bram Stoker, which had been kept by his great-grandson Noel Dobbs. Stoker's diary entries shed a light on the issues that concerned him before his London years. A remark about a boy who caught flies in a bottle might be a clue for the later development of the Renfield character in Dracula. [43]


On 8 November 2012, Stoker was honoured with a Google Doodle on Google's homepage commemorating the 165th anniversary of his birth. [44] [45]

An annual festival takes place in Dublin, the birthplace of Bram Stoker, in honour of his literary achievements. The 2014 Bram Stoker Festival encompassed literary, film, family, street, and outdoor events, and ran from October 24 to 27 in Dublin. [46] [47] The festival is supported by the Bram Stoker Estate [48] and funded by Dublin City Council and Fáilte Ireland.



Short story collections

Uncollected stories

TitleDate of earliest appearanceEarliest appearanceNovelisation
"The Crystal Cup"September 1872 London Society (London)
"Buried Treasures"13 March 1875 and 20 March 1875 The Shamrock (Dublin)
"The Chain of Destiny"1 May 1875 and 22 May 1875The Shamrock (Dublin)
"The Dualitists; or, The Death Doom of the Double Born"1887The Theatre Annual (London)
"The Gombeen Man"1889–1890 The People (London)Chapter 3 of The Snake's Pass
"Lucky Escapes of Sir Henry Irving"1890
"The Night of the Shifting Bog"January 1891Current Literature: A Magazine of Record and Review, Vol. VI, No. 1. (New York)
"Lord Castleton Explains"30 January 1892 The Gentlewoman: The Illustrated Weekly Journal for Gentlewomen (London)Chapter 10 of The Fate of Fenella (Hutchinson, 1892)
"Old Hoggen: A Mystery"1893
"The Man from Shorrox"February 1894 The Pall Mall Magazine (London)
"The Red Stockade"September 1894The Cosmopolitan: An Illustrated Monthly Magazine (London)
"When the Sky Rains Gold"26 August and 2 September 1894 Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper (London)
"At the Watter's Mou': Between Duty and Love"November 1895Current Literature: A Magazine of Record and Review, Vol. XVIII, No. 5. (New York)Part of Chapter 2 of The Watter's Mou'
"Our New House"20 December 1895The Theatre Annual (London)
"Bengal Roses"17 and 24 July 1898Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper
"A Yellow Duster"7 May 1899Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper
"A Young Widow"1899
"A Baby Passenger"9 February 1899Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper
"The Seer"1902 The Mystery of the Sea (New York: Doubleday, Page & Co.)Chapters 1 and 2 of The Mystery of the Sea
"The Bridal of Death"1903The Jewel of the Seven Stars (London: William Heinemann)Alternate ending to The Jewel of Seven Stars
"What They Confessed: A Low Comedian's Story"1908
"The Way of Peace"1909Everybody's Story Magazine (London)
"The 'Eroes of the Thames"October 1908 The Royal Magazine (London)
"Greater Love"October 1914 The London Magazine (London)



Critical works on Stoker


Related Research Articles

<i>Dracula</i> 1897 novel by Bram Stoker

Dracula is a novel by Bram Stoker, published in 1897. An epistolary novel, the narrative is related through letters, diary entries, and newspaper articles. It has no single protagonist, but opens with solicitor Jonathan Harker taking a business trip to stay at the castle of a Transylvanian nobleman, Count Dracula. Harker escapes the castle after discovering that Dracula is a vampire, and the Count moves to England and plagues the seaside town of Whitby. A small group, led by Abraham Van Helsing, hunt Dracula and, in the end, kill him.

This article contains information about the literary events and publications of 1897.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Henry Irving</span> English stage actor of the Victorian era

Sir Henry Irving, christened John Henry Brodribb, sometimes known as J. H. Irving, was an English stage actor in the Victorian era, known as an actor-manager because he took complete responsibility for season after season at the West End’s Lyceum Theatre, establishing himself and his company as representative of English classical theatre. In 1895 he became the first actor to be awarded a knighthood, indicating full acceptance into the higher circles of British society.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mina Harker</span> Fictional character

Wilhelmina "Mina" Harker is a fictional character and the main female character in Bram Stoker's 1897 Gothic horror novel Dracula.

<i>The Jewel of Seven Stars</i> 1903 novel by Bram Stoker

The Jewel of Seven Stars is a horror novel by Irish writer Bram Stoker, first published by Heinemann in 1903. The story is a first-person narrative of a young man pulled into an archaeologist's plot to revive Queen Tera, an ancient Egyptian mummy. It explores common fin de siècle themes such as imperialism, the rise of the New Woman and feminism, and societal progress.

LGBT themes in horror fiction refers to sexuality in horror fiction that can often focus on LGBTQ+ characters and themes within various forms of media. It may deal with characters who are coded as or who are openly LGBTQ+, or it may deal with themes or plots that are specific to gender and sexual minorities. Depending on when it was made, it may contain open statements of gender variance, sexuality, same-sex sexual imagery, same-sex love or affection or simply a sensibility that has special meaning to LGBTQ+ people.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Florence Balcombe</span> Wife and literary executor of Bram Stoker

Florence Balcombe was the wife and literary executor of Bram Stoker. She is remembered for her legal dispute with the makers of Nosferatu, an unauthorized film based on her husband's novel Dracula.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Count Dracula</span> Title character of Bram Stokers 1897 gothic horror novel Dracula

Count Dracula is the title character of Bram Stoker's 1897 gothic horror novel Dracula. He is considered to be both the prototypical and the archetypal vampire in subsequent works of fiction. Aspects of the character are believed by some to have been inspired by the 15th-century Wallachian Prince Vlad the Impaler, who was also known as Dracula, and by Sir Henry Irving, an actor for whom Stoker was a personal assistant.

Elizabeth Russell Miller was a Professor Emerita at Memorial University of Newfoundland. She resided in Toronto. In her early academic career, she focused on Newfoundland literature, primarily the life and work of her father, well-known Newfoundland author and humorist Ted Russell. Since 1990, her major field of research has been Bram Stoker's novel Dracula, its author, sources and influence. She has published several books on the subject, including Reflections on Dracula, Dracula: Sense & Nonsense, a volume on Dracula for the Dictionary of Literary Biography and, most recently, Bram Stoker's Notes for Dracula: A Facsimile Edition with Robert Eighteen-Bisang. She founded the Dracula Research Centre and was the founding editor of the Journal of Dracula Studies now at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hamilton Deane</span> Irish actor (1880–1958)

Hamilton Deane was an Irish actor, playwright and director. He played a key role in popularising Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula as a 1924 stage play and a 1931 film.

<i>Dracula the Un-dead</i> 2009 novel by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt

Dracula the Un-dead is a 2009 sequel to Bram Stoker's classic 1897 novel Dracula. The book was written by Bram Stoker's great-grandnephew Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt. Previously, Holt had been a direct-to-DVD horror screenwriter, and Stoker a track and field coach.

<i>The Mystery of the Sea</i> 1902 novel by Bram Stoker

The Mystery of the Sea, a mystery novel by Bram Stoker, was originally published in 1902. Stoker is best known for his 1897 novel Dracula, but The Mystery of the Sea contains many of the same compelling elements. It tells the story of an Englishman living in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, who meets and falls in love with an American heiress. She is involved with the intrigues of the Spanish–American War, and a complex plot involving second sight, kidnapping, and secret codes unfolds over the course of the novel.

Dacre Calder Stoker is a Canadian-American author, sportsman and filmmaker.

Carol A. Senf is professor and associate chair in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at the Georgia Institute of Technology. With four books, two critical editions, one edited essay collection, and various critical essays, she is a recognized expert on the biography and works of Irish author Bram Stoker. She received the Lord Ruthven Award in 1999.

Robert Eighteen-Bisang was a Canadian author and scholar who was one of the world's foremost authorities on vampire literature and mythology.

Joseph Cunningham Harker (1855–1927) was a scene painter and theatrical designer in London. Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, named one of the leading characters in the novel after him.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">J. D. Barker</span> American author of suspense thrillers

J.D. Barker, or Jonathan Dylan Barker, is a New York Times and international bestselling American author of suspense thrillers, often incorporating elements of horror, crime, mystery, science fiction, and the supernatural. His debut novel, Forsaken, was a finalist for a Bram Stoker Award in 2014.

Bibliography of works on Dracula is a listing of non-fiction literary works about the book Dracula or derivative works about its titular vampire Count Dracula.

Irish Gothic literature developed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Most of the writers were Anglo-Irish. The period from 1691 to 1800 was marked by the dominance of the Protestant Ascendancy, Anglo-Irish families of the Church of Ireland who controlled most of the land. The Irish Parliament, which was almost exclusively Protestant in composition, passed the Penal Laws, effectively disenfranchising the Catholic majority both politically and economically. This began to change with the Acts of Union 1800 and the concomitant abolition of the Irish Parliament. Following a vigorous campaign led by Irish lawyer Daniel O'Connell, Westminster passed the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829 removing most of the disabilities imposed upon Catholics.

<i>Dracul</i> (novel) 2018 novel by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker

Dracul is a 2018 prequel novel to Bram Stoker's classic 1897 work Dracula. The book was written by Bram Stoker's great-grandnephew Dacre Stoker and American author J. D. Barker. It is Stoker's second novel, after his 2009 Dracula sequel, Dracula the Un-dead.


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