Bram Stoker

Published in 18th–19th - Century History, Features, Issue 2 (Mar/Apr 2009), Volume 17

Bram Stoker in his mid-thirties.

Bram Stoker in his mid-thirties.

Bram Stoker (1847–1912) was born in Clontarf, Dublin. In spite of a sickly and bedridden childhood (which probably encouraged his reading and imagination), he later excelled in athletics at Trinity College, Dublin, from where he graduated with honours in mathematics. After a period as a civil servant at Dublin Castle and as a part-time theatre critic, in 1878 he married and moved to London, as personal assistant to the actor Henry Irving and manager of the Lyceum Theatre. This work allowed him to travel and to mix with a wide social circle, including writers and actors. Of his twelve novels and numerous short stories, none achieved the level of success of Dracula (1897), a product of his interest in eastern European folklore and the macabre. This cult novel has remained in print, been translated into some 30 languages, and has inspired more than 150 films. Stoker based Count Dracula’s persona on Vlad the Impaler, but may also have had in mind the depraved sixteenth-century Hungarian-Transylvanian aristocrat Elizabeth Bathory, who reputedly murdered 600 maidservants to bathe in their blood in a bid to restore her fading looks.

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