He was born in 1847 at 15 Marino Crescent, Clontarf, Dublin. His parents were Abraham Stoker (1799–1876), from Dublin, and the feminist Charlotte Mathilda Blake Thornely (1818–1901), who came from Ballyshannon, County Donegal. Stoker was the third of seven children. Abraham and Charlotte were members of the Church of Ireland Parish of Clontarf and attended the parish church with their children, who were baptised there.
Stoker was bed-ridden 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." He was educated in a private school run by the Rev. William Woods.
After his recovery, he grew up without further major health issues, even excelling as an athlete (he was named University Athlete) at Trinity College, Dublin, which he attended from 1864 to 1870. He graduated with honours in mathematics. He was auditor of the College Historical Society and president of the University Philosophical Society, where his first paper was on "Sensationalism in Fiction and Society".
While still a student he became interested in the theatre. Through the influence of a friend, Dr. Maunsell, he became the theatre critic for a newspaper, the Dublin Evening Mail, co-owned by the author of Gothic tales Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. At a time when theatre critics were held in low esteem, he attracted notice by the quality of his reviews. In December 1876 he gave a favourable review of the actor Henry Irving's performance as Hamlet at the Theatre Royal in Dublin. Irving read the review and invited Stoker for dinner at the Shelbourne Hotel, where he was staying. After that they became friends. Stoker also wrote stories, and in 1872 "The Crystal Cup" was published by the London Society, followed by "The Chain of Destiny" in four parts in The Shamrock. In 1876, while employed as a civil servant in Dublin, Stoker wrote a non-fiction book (The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland, published 1879), which long remained a standard work on the subject
In 1878 Stoker married Florence Balcombe, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel James Balcombe of 1 Marino Crescent, a celebrated beauty whose former suitor was Oscar Wilde. Stoker had known Wilde from his student days, having proposed him for membership of the university’s Philosophical Society while he was president. Wilde was upset at Florence's decision, but Stoker later resumed the acquaintanceship, and after Wilde's fall visited him on the Continent.
The Stokers moved to London, where Stoker became acting-manager and then business manager of Irving's Lyceum Theatre, London, a post he held for 27 years. On 31 December 1879, Bram and Florence's only child was born, a son whom they christened Irving Noel Thornley Stoker. The collaboration with Irving was very important for Stoker and through him he became involved in London's high society, where he met, among other notables, James Abbott McNeill Whistler and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (to whom he was distantly related). Working for Irving, the most famous actor of his time, and managing one of the most successful theatres in London made Stoker a notable if very busy man. He was absolutely dedicated to Irving and his memoirs of Irving show how he idolised him. In London Stoker also met Hall Caine who became one of his closest friends - he dedicated Dracula to him.
In the course of Irving's tours, Stoker got the chance to travel around the world though he never visited Eastern Europe, scene of part of his most famous novel. Stoker particularly enjoyed visits to the United States, where Irving was popular. With Irving he was invited twice to the White House, and knew both William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. Stoker was a great admirer of the country, setting two of his novels there and using Americans as characters, the most notable being Quincey Morris. He also got a chance to meet one of his literary idols Walt Whitman.
Stoker supplemented his income by writing novels; the best known being the vampire tale Dracula which was published in 1897. Before writing Dracula, Stoker spent several years researching European folklore and stories of vampires. Dracula is an epistolary novel, written as collection of diary entries, telegrams, and letters from the characters, as well as fictional clippings from the Whitby and London newspapers. Stoker's inspirations for the story, in addition to Whitby, may have included a visit to Slains Castle in Aberdeenshire, and a visit to the crypts of St. Michan's Church in Dublin.
After Irving's death he managed productions at the Prince of Wales Theatre and was also on the staff of the Daily Telegraph, but he concentrated mainly on his writings. In 1906 he brought out his life of Irving, which proved very successful.
After suffering a number of strokes Bram Stoker died at No 26 St George's Square in 1912. Some biographers attribute the cause of death to tertiary syphilis. He was cremated and his ashes placed in a display urn at Golders Green Crematorium. After Irving Noel Stoker's death in 1961, his ashes were added to that urn. 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. To visit his remains at Golders Green, visitors must be escorted to the room the urn is housed in, for fear of vandalism.
Stoker was brought up as a Protestant, in the Church of Ireland. He was a strong supporter of the Liberal party. He took a keen interest in Irish affairs and was what he called a "philosophical Home Ruler", believing in Home Rule for Ireland brought about by peaceful means - but as an ardent monarchist he believed that Ireland should remain within the British Empire which he believed was a force for good. He was a great admirer of Prime Minister William Gladstone whom he knew personally, and admired his plans for Ireland.
Stoker had a strong interest in science and medicine and a belief in progress. Some of his novels like The Lady of the Shroud (1909) can be seen as science fiction. Like many people of his time Stoker believed in the concept of scientific racism drawing on his belief in Phrenology and these fears form elements in novels like Dracula. This is also reflected in his interest in early theories of criminology - he read both Cesare Lombroso and Max Nordau and used them in Dracula. Stoker was also sexist by modern standards and strongly opposed to the idea of the New Woman and several of his novels use this as a theme with the danger of assertive woman represented by a Femme fatale.
Stoker had an interest in the occult especially mesmerism, but was also wary of occult fraud and believed strongly that superstition should be replaced by more scientific ideas. In the mid 1890s, Stoker is rumoured to have become a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, though there is no concrete evidence to support this claim. One of Stoker's closest friends was J.W. Brodie-Innis, a major figure in the Order, and Stoker himself hired Pamela Coleman Smith, as an artist at the Lyceum Theater.
The short story collection Dracula's Guest and Other Weird Stories was published in 1914 by Stoker's widow Florence Stoker. The first film adaptation of Dracula was released in 1922 and was named Nosferatu. It was directed by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau and starred Max Schreck as Count Orlock. Nosferatu was produced while Florence Stoker, Bram Stoker's widow and literary executrix, was still alive. Represented by the attorneys of the British Incorporated Society of Authors, she eventually sued the filmmakers. Her chief legal complaint was that she had been neither 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 favour in July 1925. Some copies of the film survived, however and the film 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 (1931 film) starring Bela Lugos
About the novel, Dracula
Dracula is an 1897 novel by Irish author Bram Stoker, featuring as its primary antagonist the vampire Count Dracula.
Dracula has been attributed to many literary genres including vampire literature, horror fiction, the gothic novel and invasion literature. Structurally it is an epistolary novel, that is, told as a series of diary entries and letters. Literary critics have examined many themes in the novel, such as the role of women in Victorian culture, conventional and conservative sexuality, immigration, colonialism, postcolonialism and folklore. Although Stoker did not invent the vampire, the novel's influence on the popularity of vampires has been singularly responsible for many theatrical, film and television interpretations throughout the 20th and 21st centuries
Between 1879 and 1898, Stoker was a business manager for the world-famous Lyceum Theatre in London, where he supplemented his income by writing a large number of sensational novels, his most famous being the vampire tale Dracula published on May 26, 1897. Parts of it are set around the town of Whitby, where he spent summer vacations. Throughout the 1880s and 1890s, authors such as H. Rider Haggard, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle, and H. G. Wells wrote many tales in which fantastic creatures threatened the British Empire. Invasion literature was at a peak, and Stoker's formula of an invasion of England by continental European influences was by 1897 very familiar to readers of fantastic adventure stories. Victorian readers enjoyed it as a good adventure story like many others, but it would not reach its iconic legendary status until later in the 20th century when film versions began to appear.
Before writing Dracula, Stoker spent seven years researching European folklore and stories of vampires, being most influenced by Emily Gerard's 1885 essay "Transylvania Superstitions".
Though the most famous vampire novel ever, Dracula was not the first. It was preceded and partly inspired by Sheridan Le Fanu's 1871 "Carmilla", about a lesbian vampire who preys on a lonely young woman. The image of a vampire portrayed as an aristocratic man, like the character of Dracula, was created by John Polidori in "The Vampyre" (1819), during the summer spent with Frankenstein creator Mary Shelley and other friends in 1816. The Lyceum Theatre, where Stoker worked between 1878 and 1898, was headed by the tyrannical actor-manager Henry Irving, who was Stoker's real-life inspiration for Dracula's mannerisms and who Stoker hoped would play Dracula in a stage version. Although Irving never did agree to do a stage version, Dracula's dramatic sweeping gestures and gentlemanly mannerisms drew their living embodiment from Irving.
The Dead Un-Dead was one of Stoker's original titles for Dracula, and up until a few weeks before publication, the manuscript was titled simply The Un-Dead. Stoker's Notes for Dracula show that the name of the count was originally going to be Count Wampyr, but while doing research, Stoker became intrigued by the word dracul. Dracula is derived from the word dracul in the Romanian language, meaning devil (originally dragon).
The novel has been in the public domain in the United States since its original publication because Stoker failed to follow proper copyright procedure. In the United Kingdom and other countries following the Berne Convention on copyrights, however, the novel was under copyright until April 1962, fifty years after Stoker's death. When F. W. Murnau's unauthorized film adaptation Nosferatu was released in 1922, the popularity of the novel increased considerably, owing to the controversy caused when Stoker's widow tried to have the film banned
When it was first published, in 1897, Dracula was not an immediate bestseller, although reviewers were unstinting in their praise. The contemporary Daily Mail ranked Stoker's powers above those of Mary Shelley and Edgar Allan Poe as well as Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights.
According to literary historians Nina Auerbach and David Skal in the Norton Critical Edition, the novel has become more significant for modern readers than it was for contemporary Victorian readers, most of whom enjoyed it just as a good adventure story; it only reached its broad iconic legendary classic status later in the 20th century when the movie versions appeared. However, some Victorian fans were ahead of the time, describing it as "the sensation of the season" and "the most blood-curdling novel of the paralysed century". The Daily Mail review of June 1, 1897 proclaimed it a classic of Gothic horror:
"In seeking a parallel to this weird, powerful, and horrorful story our mind reverts to such tales as The Mysteries of Udolpho, Frankenstein, The Fall of the House of Usher ... but Dracula is even more appalling in its gloomy fascination than any one of these." Similarly good reviews appeared when the book was published in the USA in 1899.
Although Dracula is a work of fiction, it does contain some historical references. The historical connections with the novel and how much Stoker knew about the history are a matter of conjecture and debate.
Following the publication of In Search of Dracula by Radu Florescu and Raymond McNally in 1972, the supposed connections between the historical Transylvanian-born Vlad III Dracula of Wallachia and Bram Stoker's fictional Dracula attracted popular attention. During his main reign (1456–1462), "Vlad the Impaler" is said to have killed from 20,000 to 40,000 European civilians (political rivals, criminals, and anyone else he considered "useless to humanity"), mainly by using his favourite method of impaling them on a sharp pole.
The main sources dealing with these events are records by Saxon settlers in neighbouring Transylvania, who had frequent clashes with Vlad III. Vlad III is revered as a folk hero by Romanians for driving off the invading Turks. His impaled victims are said to have included as many as 100,000 Turkish Muslims.
, the name "Dracul" is derived from a secret fraternal order of knights called the Order of the Dragon, founded by Sigismund of Luxembourg (king of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia, and Holy Roman Emperor) to uphold Christianity and defend the Empire against the Ottoman Turks. Vlad II Dracul, father of Vlad III, was admitted to the order around 1431 because of his bravery in fighting the Turks. From 1431 onward, Vlad II wore the emblem of the order and later, as ruler of Wallachia, his coinage bore the dragon symbol. The name Dracula means "Son of Dracul".
toker came across the name Dracula in his reading on Romanian history, and chose this to replace the name (Count Wampyr) that he had originally intended to use for his villain. However, some Dracula scholars, led by Elizabeth Miller, have questioned the depth of this connection. They argue that Stoker in fact knew little of the historic Vlad III except for his nickname. There are sections in the novel where Dracula refers to his own background, and these speeches show that Stoker had some knowledge of Romanian history. Yet Stoker includes no details about Vlad III's reign and does not mention his use of impalement. Given Stoker's use of historical background to make his novel more horrific, it seems unlikely he would have failed to mention that his villain had impaled thousands of people. It seems that Stoker either did not know much about the historic Vlad III, or did not intend his character Dracula to be the same person as Vlad III.
Vlad III was an ethnic Vlach. In the novel, Dracula claims to be a Székely: "We Szekelys have a right to be proud..."
The Dracula legend as he created it and as it has been portrayed in films and television shows may be a compound of various influences. Many of Stoker's biographers and literary critics have found strong similarities to the earlier Irish writer Sheridan le Fanu's classic of the vampire genre, Carmilla. In writing Dracula, Stoker may also have drawn on stories about the sídhe, some of which feature blood-drinking women. The folkloric figure of Abhartach has also been suggested as a source.
It has been suggested that Stoker was influenced by the history of Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who was born in the Kingdom of Hungary. Bathory is known to have tortured and killed anywhere between 36 and 700 young women over a period of many years, and it was commonly believed that she committed these crimes in order to bathe in or drink their blood, believing that this preserved her youth. No credible evidence of blood-drinking or other blood crimes in the Bathory case has ever been found, however the stories and influence may explain why Dracula appeared younger after feeding. The castle of Count Dracula was inspired by Slains Castle, at which Bram Stoker was a guest of the 19th Earl of Erroll. However, since as Stoker visited the castle in 1895—five years after work on Dracula had begun—there is unlikely to be much connection. Many of the scenes in Whitby and London are based on real places that Stoker frequently visited, although in some cases he distorts the geography for the sake of the story.
It has been suggested that Stoker received much historical information from Ármin Vámbéry, a Hungarian professor he met at least twice. Miller argues "there is nothing to indicate that the conversation included Vlad, vampires, or even Transylvania" and that, "furthermore, there is no record of any other correspondence between Stoker and Vámbéry, nor is Vámbéry mentioned in Stoker's notes for Dracula
Dracula is an epistolary novel, written as a collection of diary entries, telegrams, and letters from the characters, as well as fictional clippings from the Whitby and London newspapers and phonograph cylinders. This literary style, made most famous by one of the most popular novels of the 19th century, The Woman in White (1860), was considered rather old-fashioned by the time of the publication of Dracula, but it adds a sense of realism and provides the reader with the perspective of most of the major characters. By use of the epistolary structure, Stoker, without employing either an omniscient narrator or any awkward framing device, maximizes suspense by avoiding any implicit promise to the reader that any first-person narrator must survive all the story's perils.
Although some critics find the novel somewhat crude and sensational, it nevertheless retains its psychological power, and the sexual longings underlying the vampire attacks are manifest. As one critic wrote: What has become clearer and clearer, particularly in the fin de siècle years of the twentieth century, is that the novel's power has its source in the sexual implications of the blood exchange between the vampire and his victims...Dracula has embedded in it a very disturbing psychosexual allegory whose meaning I am not sure Stoker entirely understood: that there is a demonic force at work in the world whose intent is to eroticize women. In Dracula we see how that force transforms Lucy Westenra, a beautiful nineteen-year-old virgin, into a shameless slut.
Dracula may be viewed as a novel about the struggle between tradition and modernity at the fin de siècle. Throughout, there are various references to changing gender roles; Mina Harker can be seen as a thoroughly modern woman, using such modern technologies as the typewriter. She also displays some characteristics of the New Woman through her rejection of deference to male superiority and her economic independence. However, Mina still embodies a traditional gender role, as seen in her feminine and maternal nature and her occupation as an assistant schoolmistress.
Stoker's novel deals in general with the conflict between the world of the past — full of folklore, legend, and religious piety — and the emerging modern world of technology, positivism, and secularism.
Van Helsing epitomizes this struggle because he uses, at the time, extremely modern technologies like blood transfusions; but he is not so modern as to eschew the idea that a demonic being could be causing Lucy's illness: he spreads garlic around the sashes and doors of her room and makes her wear a garlic flower necklace. After Lucy's death, he receives an indulgence from a Catholic cleric to use the Eucharist (held by the Church to be trans-substantiated into the body and blood of Jesus) in his fight against Dracula. In trying to bridge the rational/superstitious conflict within the story, he cites new sciences, such as hypnotism, that were only recently considered magical. He also quotes (without attribution) the American psychologist William James, whose writings on the power of belief become the only way to deal with this conflict.
No character in the novel advocates a rejection of science in favour of either religion or superstition. Van Helsing receives the admiration of the other characters and succeeds in defeating Dracula by dint of a combination of encyclopaedic knowledge and "open-mindedness." Late in the novel, as Dr. Seward comes to embrace Van Helsing's open-mindedness, he writes, "In an age when the existence of ptomaines is a mystery we should not wonder at anything!" For the characters, and presumably for the author, science opens the possibility of shockingly unfamiliar phenomena. If the novel sounds a cautionary note, it merely warns against the presumption that established science as yet offers a complete world-view. Within Stoker's fictional universe, (correct) superstitious beliefs have an empirical basis and promise to yield to scientific inquiry.
Jonathan Harker's character displays the problems of dwelling in a strictly rational modern world. Visiting Count Dracula in Eastern Europe, Jonathan scoffs at the peasants who tell him to delay his visit until after Saint George's feast day. As a solicitor, Jonathan is concerned "with facts — bare meagre facts, verified by books and figures, and of which there can be no doubt". All of Jonathan’s rationality weakens him to what he witnesses at Castle Dracula. For example, the first time Jonathan witnesses Dracula crawling down the face of the castle headfirst, he is in complete disbelief. Not believing what he sees, he attempts to explain what he saw as a trick of the moonlight.
The characters of Dracula use modern technology and rationalism to defeat the Count. For example, during their pursuit of the vampire, they use railroads and steamships, not to mention the telegraph (and a telephone is even used on their behalf at one point), to keep a step ahead of him (in contrast, Dracula escapes in a sailing ship). Van Helsing uses hypnotism to pinpoint Dracula's location. Mina even employs criminology to anticipate Dracula's actions and cites both Cesare Lombroso and Max Nordau, who at that time were considered experts in this field.
A number of scholars have noted the theme of a 'barbarian' prince attempting to usurp British society as being an example of the invasion literature which was popular at the time. Author Kim Newman characterized Dracula as being the story of "a one-man invasion" and drew attention to Van Helsing's claim that Dracula's goal was to become "the father or furthurer of a new order of beings, whose road must lead through Death, not Life".
The imperialism, xenophobia and use of technology to achieve results, along with the presence of a vampire, have all been also discussed in academia as present in both Dracula and Stoker's 1909 novel, The Lady of the Shroud.
The story of Dracula has been the basis for countless films and plays. Of all the movies, the most popular are: Dracula (1931), The Horror of Dracula (1958), and Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992). Another famous version of the story was Nosferatu (1922), a film directed by the German director F.W. Murnau, was produced while Stoker's widow was alive, and the filmmakers were forced to change the setting and the characters' names for copyright reasons. The vampire in Nosferatu is called Count Orlok rather than Count Dracula.
The character of Count Dracula has remained popular over the years, and many films have used the character as a villain, while others have named him in their titles, such as Dracula's Daughter, The Brides of Dracula, and Zoltan, Hound of Dracula. An estimated 160 films (as of 2004) feature Dracula in a major role, a number second only to Sherlock Holmes. The number of films that include a reference to Dracula may reach as high as 649, according to the Internet Movie Database.
Most adaptations do not include all the major characters from the novel. The Count is always present, and Jonathan and Mina Harker, Dr. Seward, Dr. Van Helsing, and Renfield usually appear as well. The characters of Mina and Lucy are often combined into a single female role. Jonathan Harker and Renfield are also sometimes reversed or combined. Quincey Morris and Arthur Holmwood are usually omitted entirely