Bram Stoker is a famous Irish writer. He is best known for authoring the classic Gothic horror tale, Dracula, about an aristocratic vampire in Transylvania.
Birth, Parentage & Siblings
Bram Stoker, nickname of Abraham Stoker, was born on November 8, 1847 in Dublin, Ireland. His father, Abraham Stoker, was a civil servant. He worked as a chief secretary at Dublin Castle, the administrative center of the country. While his mother, Charlotte Thornley Stoker, was a writer and social activist. He was the third of his parents’ seven children. William Thornley was his two years older brother; Matilda was one year older sister; Thomas was his two years younger brother; Richard Nugent four years younger brother; Margaret six years younger sister, and George seven years younger brother.
Early Life of Bram Stoker
Bram Stoker was a sickly child. He could not stand or walk due to an unknown illness that confined him to bed for the first seven years of his life. He spent much of this time observing the lives of his family and neighborhood from his bedroom window and listening to his mother’s Irish stories and legends, much of them were gothic. His imagination and storytelling instincts were actually fueled by his father’s well-stocked library and his mother’s Irish horror folktales. His interest in Irish folklore and the gothic elements went on to become the major themes of his writings.
Education & Achievements
Bram Stoker started his school when he made a complete recovery. His mysterious illness had no lasting effects on him as he grew up. In 1864, he enrolled at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. As a student, he excelled in athletics as well as academics. He got many prizes in weightlifting, high and long jumping, gymnastics, and race walking. Successfully, he grew into a tall, strong, and sociable person fully skilled in oratory, debate, and athletics.
Furthermore, his achievement as the ‘Dublin University Athletic Sports Champion’ (1867) was the most proudest one among all his collegiate achievements. Additionally, he was also auditor of the ‘College Historical Society’ and the president of the ‘University Philosophical Society’, where he wrote his first paper on ‘Sensationalism in Fiction and Society’. In 1870, he completed his graduation with honors in mathematics.
Bram Stoker’s Career as a Civil Servant
Following in his father’s footsteps, Bram Stoker began working as a civil servant at Dublin Castle, home to British royals in Ireland from the early 1800s to the early 1920s. He spent almost ten years of his life in the Irish Civil Service. During this time, he also contributed theater criticism to the Dublin Evening Mail, a newspaper co-owned by fellow horror writer J. Sheridan Le Fanu. It was his interest in theater that led to his lifelong friendship with the English actor Henry Irving, whom he much admired.
His Marriage & Lyceum Theatre
In 1878, Bram Stoker married a celebrated beauty, Florence Anne Lemon Balcombe, who was a daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel James Balcombe. The couple had only one child, a son named Irving Noel, who was born on December 31, 1879.
After his marriage he resigned from his post as a Civil Servant in 1878 and accepted Sir Henry Irving’s offer to manage the Lyceum Theatre in London. Against his family’s wishes, he soon moved to London with his wife and became the personal assistant of actor Sir Henry Irving and the business manager of Irving’s Lyceum Theatre, a post he held until Irving’s death in 1905.
Henry Irving was impressed by Bram Stoker’s insightful and fair review of his performances, and the two became fast friends. His duties as manager included writing letters — sometimes up to 50 per day — for Irving, as well as accompanying him on his worldwide tours.
Stoker’s collaboration with Henry Irving introduced him to London’s high society, where he met James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Sir Thomas Henry Hall Caine, Frances Featherstone, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Bram Stoker’s Famous Works
In 1875, Stoker published his first novel ‘The Primrose Path’. He also wrote a handbook in legal administration ‘The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions’ during his life in Dublin and published it in 1879. Furthermore, he published his short story collection ‘The Crystal Cup’ in 1872 and ‘Under the Sunset’ in 1882.
Stoker’s second fiction work ‘The Snake’s Pass’ appeared in 1890. It was a romantic thriller novel set in a bleak western Ireland. In 1897, appeared his masterpiece, ‘Dracula‘. This classic Gothic novel narrates the story of a Transylvanian vampire who victimizes innocent people to gain the blood on which he survives. However, the novel achieved peak popularity after Stoker’s death. It also enjoyed equal success in several versions as a play and as a film.
His later works include: ‘Miss Betty’ (1898),‘The Mystery of the Sea’ (1902), ‘The Jewel of Seven Stars’ (1904), and ‘The Lady of the Shroud’ (1909). ‘The Lair of the White Worm’ (1911) was his last fictional work . It was later published under the title ‘The Garden of Evil’. None of Stoker’s later works matched the popularity of his masterpiece, ‘Dracula’.
Bram Stoker’s Death
Stoker spent his final years constantly battling through poor health and shaky financial footing. He died in London, England, on April 20, 1912, after suffering a number of strokes. He was cremated, and his ashes were deposited in a display urn at Golders Green Crematorium in north London.
After two years of Stoker’s death, his widow, Florence Stoker, posthumously published a short story collection Dracula’s Guest and other Weird Stories.
Moreover, in 2009, Dacre Stoker, the author’s great-grandnephew, published Dracula: The Un-Dead, in collaboration with Ian Holt. The book was based on Bram Stoker’s handwritten notes and excisions from the original plot threads, even including the character of Stoker in the story as a cue to the original source.
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