BRAM STOKER

OFFICIAL WEBSITE FOR THE BRAM STOKER ESTATE

The Authoritative Resource for Information about Bram Stoker’s Life and Work

 

Abraham Stoker, Jr.

A Brief Biography -

       Abraham (Bram) Stoker was born on 8 November 1847 in Clontarf, on the outskirts of Dublin, Ireland. He was the third of seven children – the others being William Thornley, Matilda, Thomas, Richard, Margaret, and George – born to Charlotte Thornley (1818-1901) from western Ireland and Abraham Stoker (1799-1876), a civil servant in Dublin. He was a sickly child, practically bed-ridden during his early years. During this time, his mother entertained him with stories and legends from Sligo, which included supernatural tales and accounts of death and disease. This may have helped lay the foundation for some of the Gothic motifs to be found later in his fiction.
    By the time he entered Trinity College in 1864, he had fully recovered from his mysterious (and undiagnosed) illness. Indeed, he was a strong young man who excelled at athletics, winning several awards for prowess in football, racing and weightlifting. Also active in debating and oratory, he served as President of the Philosophical Society. He was awarded the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1870 and a Master of Arts five years later.
    He followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the Civil Service at Dublin Castle. While employed there, he wrote his first book, The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland, published in 1879. During this period he also penned the first of many short stories, as well as theatre reviews written gratis for the Dublin Evening Mail. It was one of his reviews (of Hamlet) that brought him into contact with the British actor Henry Irving (who would be knighted by Queen Victoria in 1895). A close friendship developed between the two men that was to last until Irving’s death in 1905. In 1878, Irving invited Stoker to join him in London as business manager of his new Lyceum Theatre.
    Just before leaving Dublin, Bram married Florence Balcombe, reputed to be one of Dublin’s most beautiful women. The couple had just one child, a son Irving Noel Thornley, born in December 1879. Stoker’s work at the Lyceum made great demands on his time. His responsibilities included arranging provincial seasons and overseas tours, keeping financial records and acting as Irving’s secretary. He organized the Lyceum’s eight North American tours, during which he met and befriended Walt Whitman (whose poetry he had defended as an undergraduate at Trinity) and Mark Twain. His association with Irving brought him into contact with many of the leading figures of his day: for example, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Richard Burton, Henry Morton Stanley, Lord and Lady Randolph Churchill, and William Gladstone.    
    Stoker continued his writing, publishing numerous short stories as well as novels. He began work on what would become Dracula early in 1890. His working notes for the novel (now available as Bram Stoker’s Notes for Dracula: A Facsimile Edition) provide much information about the development of characters, settings, and elements of the plot, as well as the nature of his research. The town of Whitby, which Stoker visited with his family in the summer of 1890, had a significant influence on the shaping of his book. In fact it was at the Whitby Public Library that Stoker encountered the name “Dracula”, which he quickly appropriated for his vampire. Earlier vampire literature, most notably Sheridan Le Fanu’s “Carmilla” (1872), also likely helped him develop his own story.
    As a writer, Stoker was best known in his own day not for Dracula (1897) but for Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving (1906). Some of his lesser-known works include the novels The Snake’s Pass (1890), The Shoulder of Shasta (1895), The Jewel of Seven Stars (1904), Lady Athlyne (1908), The Lady of the Shroud (1909) and The Lair of the White Worm (1911). Also of note are two collections of short stories – Under the Sunset (1881) and Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories (1914) – as well as the non-fictional A Glimpse of America (1886).
    Stoker did not live to see the fame of Dracula. He died in London on 20 April 1912. His cremated remains are located at Golders Green Crematorium. As the result of stage adaptations in the 1920s and the Universal Studios’ movie blockbuster of 1931 (starring Bela Lugosi), Dracula became one of the world’s best-known novels. It has never been out of print, has been translated into every major foreign language, and has spawned hundreds of novels, short stories, and movies. Count Dracula has permeated just about every aspect of our culture.
        Biography kindly provided by Dr. Elizabeth Miller
    Dr. Elizabeth Miller is recognized internationally as a leading Dracula scholar. She has lectured widely, both in Europe and North America, participated in several television documentaries, and travels regularly as guest speaker with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. She has been interviewed by numerous media, including ABC, CBS, BBC, New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, and the Wall Street Journal. 
    Her publications include Reflections on Dracula (1997), A Dracula Handbook (2005), Dracula: Sense & Nonsense (2006), Bram Stoker’s Notes for Dracula: A Facsimile Edition (2008, with Robert Eighteen-Bisang) and Bram Stoker’s Dracula: A Documentary Journey into Vampire Country and the Dracula Phenomenon (2009).
    Elizabeth, who lives in Toronto, is president of the Transylvanian Society of Dracula (Canadian Chapter). In this capacity she co-organized the World Dracula Congress (Romania, 1995) and Dracula 97: A Centennial Celebration (Los Angeles, 1997). She maintains two Dracula websites, accessible through www.blooferland.comhttp://www.blooferland.com/shapeimage_2_link_0

April 23, 1912

The Houston Daily Post, Houston, Texas  6 March 1897

Points About People

Bram Stoker, who stands in Henry Irving’s place to the outside world, has accompanied him on all his trips to this country. He is an athletic man, with pointed blonde beard and the shoulders of a college oarsman. He is an Oxford graduate, and a man particularly adapted to the various duties which he is called on to perform as Irving’s personal representative.

(Correction by BSE, Bram Stoker graduated from Trinity College Dublin)

British Museum website,

and images of Bram Stoker’s request to replace his lost ticket to the reading room, and a letter of reference from his brother Tom Stoker.

Page updated 20 December 2011

The Bram Stoker Gold Medal, awarded annually for "the best imaginative work of the Session in any branch of effort in the School."

For over 100 years, the Bram Stoker Prize has been awarded to a GSA graduating student since its donor, Bram Stoker, gifted a Gold Medal to the School in 1903. Strangely, no one really knows why Stoker, the author of Dracula (1897), should make such a generous gift and what his link with the School was .

Stoker (1847-1912) was an Irishman who moved to London in 1878 to work in the Lyceum theatre with English actor Henry Irving. It has been asserted that his friendship with Irving and the touring of the Lyceum company allowed him to form many friendships with others in the Arts; friendships which may have included Francis Newbery, the Director of School who originally commissioned Charles Rennie Mackintosh with the new School building.

Even without knowing the provenance of the prize, Stoker’s generosity continues to be remembered annually, with the Bram Stoker Prize awarded by the Director to the student producing the best imaginative work - though Stoker’s medal remains safely in the School archives.

- Glasgow School of Art, Project Bulletin, July 2007

Letter to Bram Stoker from Mark Twain, c. Spring, 1894. 


    “My Dear Stoker,

    I am dating this because it is not to be mailed at present.

    When it reaches you it will mean that there is a hitch in my machine-enterprise – a hitch so serious as to make it take to itself the aspect of a dissolved dream. This letter, then, will contain [the] cheque for the $100 which you have paid. And will you tell Irving for me – I can’t get up courage enough to talk about this misfortune, myself, except to you, whom by good luck I haven’t damaged yet – that when the wreckage presently floats ashore he will  get a good deal of his $500 back; & a dab at a time I will make up to him the rest.

    I’m not feeling as fine as I was when I saw you there in your home. Please remember me kindly to Mrs. Stoker. I gave up that London lecture project entirely. Had to – there’s never been a chance since to find the time.

    Sincerely yours,

S.L. Clemens

    I am taking it for granted you still abide at 17 St. Leonard’s Terrace Chelsea”

Trinity News

A Dublin UniversityWeekly

Vol. VI - No. 4     Thursday, 20th November 1958  Price 3d.

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