Bram Stoker was born in Dublin, Ireland on November 8th, 1847. His father’s name was Abraham Stoker and his mother’s name was Charlotte Mathilda Blake Thornley, who was from County Sligo. Abraham and Charlotte were Church of Ireland parishioners and brought their children up in the same church; they were baptized there. Abraham worked as a senior civil servant.
Bram Stoker`s Early life
As a young boy, Bram spent most of his time reading books or playing with various toys that he would invent in order to create new games for himself and his siblings to play with. His interest in writing also surfaced during his early years as he wrote his own magazine filled with stories about heroic deeds and quests that were based upon the tales that jumped out from the books that he read often. His interest in writing and storytelling stayed with Bram until the day he died.
After returning to school at the age of seven, Stoker was bedridden with an illness that he never recovered from. “I was naturally thoughtful,” he wrote about this period, “and the leisure of long illness gave me the opportunity for many thoughts, some of which were productive in later years.” He studied at a private institution run by the Reverend William Woods.
After his recovery, he went on to have no further severe illnesses and even excelled as an athlete at Trinity College in Dublin, which he attended from 1864 to 1870. He received a BA in 1870 and an MA in 1875 after graduating with honors in mathematics. He was also a member of the College Historical Society (the Hist) and the University Philosophical Society, where his first paper was on Sensationalism in Fiction and Society.
Stoker thereafter began working as a government employee at Dublin Castle, which had served as the home of British royalty in Ireland since the early 1800s. Stoker also found time to write short fiction during this period, including “The Crystal Cup” in 1872.
In 1878, Bram Stoker married Florence Balcombe, daughter of Lt. Col. James Balcombe of 1 Marino Crescent in Kensington. She was a well-known beauty who had been courted by Oscar Wilde on several occasions before rejecting him. During his student days, Stoker had known Wilde and had recommended him for membership in the university’s Philosophical Society while he was president.
The Stokers moved to London, where Bram was made acting manager and then business manager of Irving’s Lyceum Theatre, London. On December 31, 1879, their only child was born, a son they named Irving Noel Thornley Stoker.
Stoker’s association with Henry Irving was crucial for him, and he became involved in London’s high society, where he met James Abbott McNeill Whistler and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Working for Irving, the most famous actor of his time, and running one of the most successful theatres in London made Stoker a notable if busy individual. In London, Stoker met Hall Caine, who became one of his closest confidantes – he dedicated Dracula to him.
‘Dracula’ and Final Years
Stoker never expected his book to become as successful as it did, but after the first printing of the book, only 500 copies were sold. The novel was reprinted several times because it gained an enormous amount of interest mainly due to rumors that there actually existed a vampire by the name of Dracula somewhere in Transylvania.
Stoker’s health declined growing up due to suffering from bronchitis and other surrounding illnesses. However, he carried on despite this condition until eventually dying at his home near Merrion Square in 1912. Bram Stoker had written fifteen novels during his lifetime although none of them were nearly as successful as Dracula.
Professor Abraham Van Helsing is one of the main characters who appear in Dracula, and he became an archetype for van Helsing in popular culture. The character has appeared in several films including but not limited to “The Last Man on Earth” with Vincent Price in 1964, “Shadow of the Vampire” with Willem Dafoe in 2000, and most recently Van Helsing in 2004 where he was portrayed by Hugh Jackman.
In 2009, his great-grandnephew, Dacre Stoker, made his debut into the business with Dracula: The Un-Dead, written with Ian Holt. According to the two, they had used Bram Stoker’s handwritten notes as a source and excised subplots from the plot, even including Stoker in their narrative as a tribute to the original source.
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