Abraham "Bram" Stoker (8 November 1847 — 20 April 1912) was an Irish novelist and short story writer, best known today for his 1897 Gothic novel Dracula. During his lifetime, he was better known as the personal assistant of actor Henry Irving and business manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London, which Irving owned.
"A house cannot be made habitable in a day; and, after all, how few days go to make up a century.""And so we remained till the red of the dawn began to fall through the snow gloom. I was desolate and afraid, and full of woe and terror. But when that beautiful sun began to climb the horizon life was to me again.""Before I left the castle I so fixed its entrances that never more can the Count enter there Undead.""Count Dracula had directed me to go to the Golden Krone Hotel, which I found, to my great delight, to be thoroughly old-fashioned, for of course I wanted to see all I could of the ways of the country.""He may not enter anywhere at the first, unless there be some one of the household who bid him to come, though afterwards he can come as he please.""How blessed are some people, whose lives have no fears, no dreads; to whom sleep is a blessing that comes nightly, and brings nothing but sweet dreams.""I saw the Count lying within the box upon the earth, some of which the rude falling from the cart had scattered over him. He was deathly pale, just like a waxen image, and the red eyes glared with the horrible vindictive look which I knew so well.""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?""It was like a miracle, but before our very eyes, and almost in the drawing of a breath, the whole body crumbled into dust and passed from our sight.""Let me be accurate in everything, for though you and I have seen some strange things together, you may at the first think that I, Van Helsing, am mad. That the many horrors and the so long strain on nerves has at the last turn my brain.""No man knows till he has suffered from the night how sweet and dear to his heart and eye the morning can be.""Suddenly, I became conscious of the fact that the driver was in the act of pulling up the horses in the courtyard of a vast ruined castle, from whose tall black windows came no ray of light, and whose broken battlements showed a jagged line against the sky.""There are such beings as vampires, some of us have evidence that they exist. Even had we not the proof of our own unhappy experience, the teachings and the records of the past give proof enough for sane peoples.""Whether it is the old lady's fear, or the many ghostly traditions of this place, or the crucifix itself, I do not know, but I am not feeling nearly as easy in my mind as usual.""Within, stood a tall old man, clean shaven save for a long white moustache, and clad in black from head to foot, without a single speck of colour about him anywhere."
While still a student he became interested in the theatre. Through the influence of a friend, Dr. Maunsell, he became the theatre critic for a newspaper, the Dublin Evening Mail, co-owned by the author of Gothic tales Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. At a time when theatre critics were held in low esteem, he attracted notice by the quality of his reviews. In December 1876 he gave a favourable review of the actor Henry Irving's performance as Hamlet at the Theatre Royal in Dublin. Irving read the review and invited Stoker for dinner at the Shelbourne Hotel, where he was staying. After that they became friends. Stoker 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 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), which long remained a standard work on the subject.
In 1878 Stoker married Florence Balcombe, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel James Balcombe of 1 Marino Crescent, a celebrated beauty whose former suitor was Oscar Wilde. 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.
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 Irving was very important for Stoker and through him he became involved in London's high society, where he met, among other notables, 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 very busy man. He was absolutely dedicated to Irving and his memoirs of Irving show how 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 got the chance to travel around the world, although he never visited Eastern Europe, a setting for his most famous novel. Stoker particularly enjoyed visits to the United States, where Irving was popular. With Irving he was invited twice to the White House, and knew both William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. Stoker was a great admirer of the country, setting two of his novels there and using Americans as characters, the most notable being Quincey Morris. He also got a chance to meet one of his literary idols Walt Whitman.
While working as manager for actor Henry Irving, and as secretary and director of London's Lyceum Theatre, he began writing novels beginning with The Snake's Pass in 1890 and Dracula in 1897. During this period, Stoker was also part of the literary staff of the London Daily Telegraph newspaper and wrote other works of fiction, including the horror novels The Lady of the Shroud (1909) and The Lair of the White Worm (1911). In 1906, after Irving's death, he published his life of Irving, which proved very successful, and managed productions at the Prince of Wales Theatre.
Before writing Dracula, Stoker spent several years researching European folklore and mythological stories of vampires. 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 his story, a skill he developed as a newspaper writer. At the time of its publication, it 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."
According to the Encyclopedia of World Biography, Stoker's stories are today included within 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 which, according to historian Jules Zanger, also used the "myth-making" and story-telling method of having "multiple narrators" telling the same tale from different perspectives. "'They can't all be lying,' thinks the reader."
The original 541-page manuscript of Dracula, believed to have been lost, was found in a barn in northwestern Pennsylvania during the early 1980s. It included the typed manuscript with many corrections, 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 notes, "the most famous horror novel ever published, its title changed at the last minute."
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 Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu.
After suffering a number of strokes Bram Stoker died at No. 26 St George's Square in 1912. Some biographers attribute the cause of death to tertiary syphilis. He was 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. To visit his remains at Golders Green, visitors must be escorted to the room the urn is housed in, for fear of vandalism.
Stoker was brought up as a Protestant, in the Church of Ireland. He was a strong supporter of the Liberal party. He took a keen interest in Irish affairs and was what he called a "philosophical home ruler", believing in Home Rule for Ireland brought about by peaceful means - but as an ardent monarchist he believed that Ireland should remain within the British Empire which he believed was a force for good. He was a great admirer of Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone whom he knew personally, and admired his plans for Ireland.
Stoker had a strong interest in science and medicine and a belief in progress. Some of his novels like The Lady of the Shroud (1909) can be seen as early science fiction. Like many people of his time Stoker believed in the concept of scientific racism drawing on his belief in Phrenology and these fears form elements in novels like Dracula. This is also reflected in his interest in early theories of criminology - he read both Cesare Lombroso and Max Nordau and used them in Dracula.
Stoker had an interest in the occult especially mesmerism, but was also wary of occult fraud and believed strongly that superstition should be replaced by more scientific ideas. 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 Theater.
The short story collection Dracula's Guest and Other Weird Stories was published in 1914 by Stoker's widow Florence Stoker. The first film adaptation of Dracula was released in 1922 and was named Nosferatu. It was directed by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau and starred Max Schreck as Count Orlock. Nosferatu was produced while Florence Stoker, Bram Stoker's widow and literary executrix, was still alive. Represented by the attorneys of the British Incorporated Society of Authors, she eventually sued the filmmakers. Her chief legal complaint was that she had been neither 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. Some copies of the film survived, however and the film has become well known. The first authorized film version of Dracula did not come about until almost a decade later when Universal Studios released Tod Browning's Dracula starring Bela Lugosi.
Because of the Stokers' frustrating history with Dracula's copyright, a great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker, Canadian writer Dacre Stoker, with encouragement from screenwriter Ian Holt, decided to write "a sequel that bore the Stoker name" to "reestabish creative control over" the original novel. In 2009, 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.
The Lair of the White Worm (aka: The Garden of Evil) (1911)
Short story collections
Under the Sunset (1881), comprising eight fairy tales for children.
The Record of a Theatrical Touring Party (1908)
Dracula's Guest and Other Weird Stories (1914), published posthumously by Florence Stoker
"The Bridal of Death" (alternate ending to The Jewel of Seven Stars)
"The Chain of Destiny"
"The Crystal Cup"
"The Dualitists; or, The Death Doom of the Double Born"
"Lord Castleton Explains" (chapter 10 of The Fate of Fenella)
"The Gombeen Man" (chapter 3 of The Snake's Pass)
"In the Valley of the Shadow"
"The Man from Shorrox"
"The Red Stockade"
"The Seer" (chapters 1 and 2 of The Mystery of the Sea)
The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland (1879)
A Glimpse of America (1886)
Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving (1906)
Famous Impostors (1910)
Bram Stoker's Notes for Dracula: A Facsimile Edition (2008) Bram Stoker Annotated and Transcribed by Robert Eighteen-Bisang and Elizabeth Miller, Foreword by Michael Barsanti. Jefferson NC & London: McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-3410-7
Critical works on Stoker
William Hughes, Beyond Dracula (Palgrave, 2000) ISBN 0312231369