‘Dracula’ Author Bram Stoker Facts

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Bram Stoker, author of the Gothic masterpiece Dracula, created one of the most iconic characters in literature – a blood-drinking, shape-changing, garlic-hating vampire who dwells in a spooky castle in Transylvania and imbues his victims with the curse of the living dead. Since the novel’s publication in 1897, an exuberant vampire subculture has swept across the globe, with Stoker’s spooky number inspiring everything from movies to ballets to breakfast cereals.

It is quite possible that Stoker was surprised by Dracula‘s huge popularity. He played many roles during his life – athlete, journalist, civil servant, fiction writer – but was best known in his time as the business leader of a famous stage actor. Here are 11 illuminating facts about the man behind the legend of modern vampires.

1. Bram Stoker was a sickly child.

Abraham (“Bram”) Stoker was born in 1847 in Clontarf, a coastal suburb of Dublin, Ireland. He was the third of seven children and his family belonged to the comfortable middle class. But Stoker had a rough start to life. Suffering from a serious but unexplained illness, he was confined to bed during the early years of his childhood. “[T]sick, I was about 7 years old, “the author later wrote,” I never knew what it was like to stand. “

2. Bram Stoker has become a star college athlete.

Despite his mysterious childhood illness, Stoker grew into a tall and robust young adult. He enrolled at Trinity College Dublin in 1864, and as an average student he excelled in a list loaded with extracurricular activities, especially athletic activities. Stoker joined the college rugby team and competed in high and long jump, gymnastics, trapeze and rowing, among other activities. He won awards for weightlifting and endurance walking, and was crowned “Dublin University Athletic Champion” in 1867. Thinking back to his college days, Stoker remembers being “physically immensely strong “.

3. During his university studies, Bram Stoker worked at Dublin Castle.

Stoker entered public service while still a student at Trinity College. He landed a job at Dublin Castle, following in his father’s footsteps, who worked in the historic building as a clerk in the British administration. Stoker was eventually promoted to Inspector of Small Sessions, giving him oversight of district courts. His first published book was actually a handbook for public servants titled Duties of the Registrars of Small Sessions in Ireland. By Stoker’s own admission, the book was “as dry as dust.”

4. Bram Stoker was the manager of a famous actor.

During his years as a public servant, Stoker began moonlighting as an unpaid theater critic for the Dublin Evening Mail. A theater fan, Stoker had been appalled by the coverage of dramas in Dublin newspapers, which often entrusted reviews to reporters without any theater expertise. He offered his services to the owner of the Mail, and when told there was no money for new reviews, he volunteered to write his reviews for free. It was through this role that Stoker met his acting idol, the formidable Victorian actor Sir Henry Irving, marking the start of one of the most important relationships in the author’s life. “The soul had looked into the soul!” Stoker wrote about their first meeting. “From that hour began a friendship as deep, as close, as lasting as possible between two men. “

Impressed by Stoker’s business acumen and flattered by his admiration, Irving invited Stoker to become his manager. It was a long-term job: Stoker organized Irving’s overseas tours, co-hosted his dinners, and answered his letters – over half a million of them, according to Stoker’s estimate. . He also oversaw the operations of Irving’s London theater, the Lyceum. Although Stoker enjoyed modest success as a writer during his lifetime, he was primarily known as Irving’s right-hand man. When Stoker died in 1912, The New York Times credits him with “a large part of Irving’s success.”

5. It took Bram Stoker seven years to write Dracula.

Stoker would have liked to say that the sight of his iconic bloodsucker came to him in a nightmare, after “an overly generous portion of dressed crab at supper”. While the author’s notes suggest that some plot elements may indeed have come from a dream, he also consulted a wide range of sources while preparing to write. Dracula– books on legends and superstitions, natural history texts, travelogues. A vacation to the seaside resort of Whitby brought color to her character’s story. (He never visited Transylvania, the historic Romanian region where Dracula resides.)

Stoker ultimately spent seven years researching and writing his novel, battling “the overload of his own imaginative clutter” and crises of confidence in the narrative, according to biographer David J. Skal. “He had a second or even a third thought on almost everything,” Skal writes. “In the end, he wondered if the book would even be remembered.”

6. Dracula was almost called “Count Wampyr”.

Stoker’s Notes for Dracula reveal that he originally planned to give his dastardly vampire a rather silly name: “Count Wampyr”. But he seems to have changed his mind after reading A tale of the principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, a survey of two Romanian provinces. Stoker borrowed the book from a public library in the summer of 1890 and copied a revealing footnote into his papers, adding his own capital letters to emphasize: “DRACULA in the Wallachian language means DEVIL.” At one point, Stoker went back to his notes and in various places crossed out “Wampyr” and wrote “Dracula”. The new name also seems to have impressed the publisher of Stoker; the author titled his novel Undead, but an editor changed it to Dracula before the publication of the book.

7. Bram Stoker directed a theatrical adaptation of Dracula before the novel is released.

May 18, 1897, eight days before Dracula has been released – an adaptation of the novel was staged at the Lyceum Theater. It was a sloppy business. All pieces intended for public performance had to be submitted to the Lord Chamberlain’s office for licensing. Stoker had therefore quickly developed a script in order to retain the dramatic rights of Dracula. The ads for the performance, which was more of a dramatic read than a play, were put in place just half an hour before the show started. Only two paying customers were in the audience, possibly for the better, as the adaptation featured “over 40 scenes in total and would likely have taken six hours to numb,” according to the British Library.

The Earl didn’t reappear on stage until 1924, when Irish actor Hamilton Deane premiered his dramatic version of Dracula, adapted with permission from Stoker’s Widow. The show was a smash hit and gained even more popularity when it debuted in America, with a script review by John L. Balderston and starring Bela Lugosi as Dracula. Stoker’s gothic tale, which had sold moderately after its release as a novel, had become a cultural sensation.

8. Bram Stoker sent fan mail to Walt Whitman.

Stoker first met Blades of grass, poetic opus by Walt Whitman, while a student at Trinity College. The work was controversial – for its overt sensuality and experimental style, among others – but it deeply moved Stoker. In 1872 he wrote Whitman a touching letter of nearly 2,000 words, thanking the poet for his work and expressing hope that the two might become friends. “If I was in front of your face, I would like to shake your hand,” Stoker confessed, “because I feel like I will love you.” It took him four years to find the courage to send the letter to Whitman and several weeks later he received a letter in return. “You did well to write to me in a way so unconventional, so fresh, so manly and so affectionately too,” the poet assured Stoker. “I also hope (although it is not likely) that one day we will meet.”

But Stoker and Whitman have met three times, in fact, thanks to Stoker’s trips to the United States with Henry Irving and the Lyceum Theater. Their conversations spanned a range of subjects, from poetry and drama to Abraham Lincoln, whom both men admired. “I found [Whitman] everything I’d ever dreamed of, ”Stoker recalls. And when Whitman died in 1892, he left a gift for Stoker: the original notes from a lecture on Lincoln the poet gave in Philadelphia in 1886.

9. Bram Stoker has also written a novel about a malicious worm.

Although he is best known as the author of Dracula, Stoker wrote numerous short stories and 12 novels during his literary career. His fiction spans the genre of adventure, romance, horror, but only one of his works, a novel entitled The white grub lair, claims the distinction of being, in the words of one reviewer, “one of the most bartender books ever written.”

The tale features a creepy monstrous, a kite-obsessed hypnotist and numerous mongooses, among other quirks. Modern readers have criticized The white grub lair for being blatantly racist, sexist and generally very bad. Published in 1911, it was Stoker’s last novel, written at a time when he was in poor health. Some have questioned whether the novel’s “lopsided nature” was the product of a mental decline caused by syphilis, but despite much speculation about it, there is no definitive evidence that Stoker ever contracted the disease sexually. transmissible.

10. Bram Stoker encountered financial difficulties at the end of his life.

Stoker’s later years were marked by illness and financial hardship. He suffered from kidney disease and in 1906 suffered a paralytic stroke which left him with persistent vision problems. Henry Irving had passed away the previous year, and his longtime employer having left, Stoker turned to various other sources of income; he ran a West End music production, worked as a journalist, and continued to write fiction. But those companies didn’t make much money, and his health continued to decline. In 1911 he appealed to the Royal Literary Fund for financial aid, explaining that he had recently suffered a “burnout” and was unsure whether he would be able to “do much or any literary work” in the future. But the author no longer lived; he died on April 20, 1912, at the age of 64.

11. The barely mentioned Bram Stoker obituaries Dracula.

Today one of the most famous novels in the English language, Dracula hardly deserved a mention in Stoker’s obituaries, which instead focused on his professional relationship with Henry Irving. The New York Times felt that the “Stoker stories, while strange, were not of a memorable quality”, while The temperature in London predicted that his biography of Irving would be his “chief literary memorial” – noting only briefly that Stoker was also a “master of a particularly frightening and frightening genre of fiction”.


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