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Published on April 15th, 2012 | by Yellow Magpie1
Bram Stoker: The Famous Irish Creator Of Count Dracula
‘As the Count leaned over me and his hands touched me, I could not repress a shudder. It may have been that his breath was rank, but a horrible feeling of nausea came over me, which, do what I would, I could not conceal.’ This chilling quote is from one of the most famous novels ever written, Dracula, by Irish writer Bram Stoker. While much has been written about Count Dracula, its author is not as well known.
The Early Life Of Bram Stoker
Bram (short for Abraham) Stoker was born in Dublin, Ireland, on November 8th, 1847, to Abraham Stoker and Mathilda Blake Thornley.
Bram was the third of seven children and was delicate and sickly as a child spending much of his time in bed. It’s understood that his mother told him a lot of horror stories and this could well have influenced his creation of Dracula.
He is quoted as saying ; ‘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.’
By the age of seven he was deemed well enough to attend school and was sent for private tuition at an establishment run by the Rev. William Woods.
Once he recovered from his illness Bram never looked back and enjoyed robust health becoming an athlete and earning the title of University Athlete at Trinity College Dublin where he attended from 1864-1870.
The Lure Of Academia
Stoker was also extremely bright academically and graduated with honours in mathematics. In addition he was president of the Philosophical Society and auditor of the Historical Society.
Following his graduation he went on to work in the Civil Service at Dublin Castle where he remained for nine years. His time there may have been the inspiration for his book entitled The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland (1879).
He also had a lively interest in politics and believed in Home Rule for Ireland believing it could be achieved through peaceful means.
Bram Stoker had an intense love of the arts and began writing theatre reviews. He soon became a respected critic being well informed about his subject.
A glowing review of Shakespeare’s Hamlet with actor Henry Irving in the lead role led to an invitation from Irving to Stoker to join him for dinner at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin. A lifelong friendship between the two began and Henry Irving invited Bram to manage his Lyceum Theatre in London, a position he held for 27 years.
In 1878 Bram married actress Florence Balcombe, they settled in London and together had a son named Irving Noel Thornley.
He became acquainted with many famous actors and authors such as fellow Irishmen Oscar Wilde, William Butler Yates and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the famous Sherlock Holmes.
During this time he also continued his writing and publishing books with varying degrees of success. These included A Glimpse of America, The Primrose Path, The Watter’s Mou and a collection of short stories called Under the Sunset.
The Seeds Of Success
He wrote Dracula which was originally titled The Undead in 1897. Nevertheless, before this he had spent a number of years researching Eastern European folklore and stories about vampires.
Dracula is written in an epistolary style, composed in realistic fashion as a series of diary entries, letters, newspaper clippings and telegrams. This manner of writing has been attributed to his newspaper experience.
Dracula was not an instant hit and did not become the phenomenon we know today. Meanwhile Bram Stoker continued his writings with the Daily Telegraph with The Lady of The Shroud was published in 1909 and The Lair of the White Woman in 1911.
He died in 1912 at the age of 64. He was survived by his wife Florence and their son Irving Noel Thornley Stoker.
Dracula the film was made in 1931 and starred Bela Lugosias in the title role. It was produced by Universal and was based on a stage play of the same name.
The Legacy Of Dracula
To date more than 1000 novels and 200 films have been made about Dracula and the creepy character is one of the most famous and instantly recognisable images in fictional history.
Below is an extract from the book that recounts the first meeting of Jonathan Harker with Count Dracula.
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. He held in his hand an antique silver lamp, in which the flame burned without a chimney or globe of any kind, throwing long quivering shadows as it flickered in the draught of the open door. The old man motioned me in with his right hand with a courtly gesture, saying in excellent English, but with a strange intonation.
“Welcome to my house! Enter freely and of your own free will!” He made no motion of stepping to meet me, but stood like a statue, as though his gesture of welcome had fixed him into stone. The instant, however, that I had stepped over the threshold, he moved impulsively forward, and holding out his hand grasped mine with a strength which made me wince, an effect which was not lessened by the fact that it seemed cold as ice, more like the hand of a dead than a living man. Again he said,
“Welcome to my house! Enter freely. Go safely, and leave something of the happiness you bring!” The strength of the handshake was so much akin to that which I had noticed in the driver, whose face I had not seen, that for a moment I doubted if it were not the same person to whom I was speaking. So to make sure, I said interrogatively, “Count Dracula?”.
Take a gander at Dracula Quotes: The Legendary Creation Of Bram Stoker for more Dracula quotes.
You may wish to check out Yellow Magpie’s Daphne du Maurier: Writer Extraordinaire, Ennio Morricone: The Greatest Composer The World Has Ever Known and Le Corbusier: The Man Who Tried To Destroy Paris.
Bram Stoker: A Biography Of The Author Of Dracula is a well-written and intriguing insight into the literary talent covering nearly all of his life.
The Lost Journal of Bram Stoker: The Dublin Years is taken from the author’s journal and was only recently discovered by his great-grandson in an upstairs attic. The journal addresses much of Stoker’s time spent in his native Dublin and offers great depth into his character.