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A Focus on Our Authors > Bram Stoker

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message 1: by Gem , Moderator (new)

Gem  | 685 comments Mod
Many of the events of Bram Stoker's life are still a mystery and are open to speculation. Most biographers have had to rely on public records to determine the interests and life of the author, thus prompting Daniel Farson, Stoker's grandnephew and also one of his biographers, to write: "Stoker has long remained one of the least known authors of one of the best-known books ever written."

Biography
Abraham Stoker was born on November 8, 1847 at 15 Marino Crescent, Clontarf, on the north-side of Dublin, Ireland. His parents were Abraham Stoker and Charlotte Mathilda Blake Thornley, he was the third of seven children. He was bedridden with an unknown illness until he started school at the age of seven, when he made a complete recovery. Of this time, Stoker wrote, "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." After his recovery, he grew up without further serious illnesses, even excelling as an athlete (he was named University Athlete) at Trinity College, Dublin, which he attended from 1864 to 1870. He graduated with honors as a B.A. in Mathematics. He was auditor of the College Historical Society (the Hist) and president of the University Philosophical Society, where his first paper was on Sensationalism in Fiction and Society.

Stoker work for 10 years in the civil service at Dublin Castle, a position previously occupied by his father, during which he was also an unpaid drama critic for the Dublin Evening Mail (later the Evening Mail). His glowing reviews of Henry Irving's performances encouraged the actor to seek him out. The men met in 1876, when Stoker was twenty-nine years old, a meeting which became of great value to both men. Of course, Stoker had seen Irving many times before this, witnessing with awe Irving's considerable dramatic talent. Stoker and Irving became close friends, and Stoker soon became the actor-manager of Irving's theater. Stoker appears to have enjoyed the life of the theater for he held the position for twenty-seven years, beginning in 1878, until Irving's death in October of 1905.

In 1878, Stoker married Florence Balcombe, who had had the choice of marrying either Bram Stoker or Oscar Wilde. At the time, Stoker was thirty-one years old, Wilde only twenty-four. Stoker and Wilde remained friends, however, and Stoker was admitted into Wilde's literary circle. During his life Bram Stoker met many leading artistic and prominent figures of his day; in addition to Oscar Wilde, he entertained Arthur Conan Doyle, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Mark Twain, and once he even met Theodore Roosevelt. Bram Stoker's son and only child, Noel, was born in 1879, and in 1882 Stoker published his first substantial literary effort, Under the Sunset, a collection of tales for children.

Evidently, Stoker was a man of considerable energy and talent. As well as being acting manager of Irving's theater, he delivered lectures, and traveled extensively. In the course of Irving's tours, Stoker traveled the world, although he never visited Eastern Europe, a setting for his most famous novel. Stoker enjoyed the United States, where Irving was popular. With Irving he was invited twice to the White House, and knew William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. Stoker set two of his novels there, using Americans as characters, the most notable being Quincey Morris. He also met one of his literary idols, Walt Whitman.

Stoker wrote The Crystal Cup which was published by the London Society in 1872, followed by The Chain of Destiny in four parts in The Shamrock. In 1876 while a civil servant in Dublin, Stoker wrote the non-fiction book The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland (published 1879) which remained a standard work. Furthermore, he possessed an interest in art, and was a founder of the Dublin Sketching Club in 1879. Despite Stoker's active personal and professional life, he began writing and publishing novels while manager for Henry Irving and secretary and director of London's Lyceum Theatre, beginning with The Snake's Pass (1890) and Dracula in (1897). During this period, Stoker was part of the literary staff of The Daily Telegraph in London. He did not cease to write stories of horror and mystery after he finished Dracula. After Dracula, his novels include The Jewel of Seven Stars (1903), The The Lady of the Shroud (1909) and Lair of the White Worm (1911). During his recovery from a stroke which occurred soon after Irving's death, he published his Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving (1906), which proved successful, and managed productions at the Prince of Wales Theatre.

Although most of Stoker's novels were favorably reviewed when they appeared, they are dated by their stereotyped characters and romanticized plots, and are rarely read today. Even the earliest reviews frequently point out the stiff characterization and tendency to be overly dramatic that flaw Stoker's writing. Critics have universally praised, however, his beautifully precise place descriptions. Stoker's short stories, while sharing the faults of his novels, have fared better with modern readers. Anthologists frequently include Stoker's stories in collections of horror fiction. Dracula's Guest, originally intended as an introductory chapter to Dracula, is one of the best known. After a pair of books The Watter's Mou' and Antheneum were well received, he began research into the world of vampires.

After suffering a number of strokes, Stoker died at No. 26 St George's Square, London on 20 April 1912. In his last years, Stoker's health declined rapidly, and the cause of his death, though clouded by mystery, has generated some substantial amount of discussion. His biographers have been reticent to discuss it. Recently, though, Daniel Farson, Stoker's grandnephew, in his biography, cites Stoker's death certificate, which has as the cause of death the medical phrase Locomotor Ataxy — also called Tabes Dorsalis — known in those days as general paralysis of the insane, which implies, therefore, that Stoker had contracted syphilis, presumably around the turn of the century, and died of it. If Stoker died of syphilis, it will probably remain only speculation, since the truth of the matter hinges on whether or not Locomotor Ataxy can be construed as being syphilis. He was cremated, and his ashes were placed in a display urn at Golders Green Crematorium in north London. The ashes of Irving Noel Stoker, the author's son, were added to his father's urn following his death in 1961. The original plan had been to keep his parents' ashes together, but after Florence Stoker's death, her ashes were scattered at the Gardens of Rest. Stoker's literary efforts certainly hold some degree of achievement, and these efforts probably represent those things by which he should be remembered.

The short story collection Dracula's Guest and Other Weird Stories was published in 1914 by Stoker's widow, Florence Stoker, who was also his literary executrix. The first film adaptation of Dracula was F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu, released in 1922, with Max Schreck starring as Count Orlock. Florence Stoker eventually sued the filmmakers, and was represented by the attorneys of the British Incorporated Society of Authors. Her chief legal complaint was that she had neither been asked for permission for the adaptation nor paid any royalty. The case dragged on for some years, with Mrs. Stoker demanding the destruction of the negative and all prints of the film. The suit was finally resolved in the widow's favor in July 1925. A single print of the film survived, however, and it has become well known. The first authorized film version of Dracula did not come about until almost a decade later when Universal Studios released Tod Browning's Dracula starring Bela Lugosi.

Horror Writers Association was formed in 1985 with the help of many of the field's greats, including Joe R. Lansdale, Robert McCammon, and Dean Koontz, although it was not formally incorporated until 1987, the year it first gave Bram Stoker Awards.

Canadian writer Dacre Stoker, a great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker, decided to write "a sequel that bore the Stoker name" to "reestablish creative control over" the original novel, with encouragement from screenwriter Ian Holt, because of the Stokers' frustrating history with Dracula's copyright. In 2009, Dracula the Un-Dead was released, written by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt. Both writers "based [their work] on Bram Stoker's own handwritten notes for characters and plot threads excised from the original edition" along with their own research for the sequel. This also marked Dacre Stoker's writing debut. In Spring 2012, Dacre Stoker (in collaboration with Prof. Elizabeth Miller) presented the "lost" Dublin Journal written by Bram Stoker, which had been kept by his great-grandson Noel Dobbs. Stoker's diary entries shed a light on the issues that concerned him before his London years. A remark about a boy who caught flies in a bottle might be a clue for the later development of the Renfield character in Dracula.

On 8 November 2012, Stoker was honored with a Google Doodle on Google's homepage commemorating his 165th birthday. An annual festival takes place in Dublin, the birthplace of Bram Stoker, in honor of his literary achievements. The 2014 Bram Stoker Festival encompassed literary, film, family, street, and outdoor events, and ran from 24–27 October in and around Dublin City. The festival is supported by the Bram Stoker Estate and funded by Dublin City Council and Fáilte Ireland.

(Taken from Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia of World Biography, Cliff Notes, and Wikipedia.)

Further Reading (biographical information

biography.com

The Literature Network

Bram Stoker Estate

Articles
bramstoker.org

Bram Stoker Awards

When Bram met Walt

Portrayals of Bram Stoker in fiction (end of the article)

This Day in History (November 8)

100 Years ago Today: The Death of Bram Stoker (April 20, 2012)

Trivia

10 facts about Dracula author

9 Things You Didn't Know About the 'Dracula' Author


message 2: by Rafael (new)

Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 270 comments What a remarkable information! I did not know that Nosferatu was almost destroyed.


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