Below is a 36-minute podcast, recorded at a conference at Keats House in London, featuring vampire commentators and scholars.
LISTEN TO PODCAST HERE
So, who was Bram Stoker?
"Bram" Stoker was actually "Abraham" Stoker. He was born in 1847 near Dublin and educated at Trinity College, where he graduated with honors in mathematics, science, history, and composition. There, he became interested in theater and joined the College Historical Society and University Philosophical Society and, interestingly, wrote a paper entitled “Sensationalism in Fiction and Society.” He was also a founder of the Dublin Sketching Club. Truly a brilliant, artistic, multi-talented "Renaissance man."
After graduation, Stoker worked as a theater critic and civil servant in Dublin. He wrote a favorable review of Henry Irving, one of the most popular actors of the day, and later dined with him and became a close friend. As a result of the friendship, Stoker moved to London and became manager of Irving’s immensely popular Lyceum Theatre, a post he held for much of his adult life. During this early period of his career, Stoker wrote stories and a non-fiction book.
Immediately before moving to London, Stoker married his neighbor, the “celebrated beauty” Florence Balcombe. Victorian women, unable to pursue careers, often go down in history as “celebrated beauties,” especially when they're associated with famous men. In Florence’s case, not only did she marry Bram, but before their courtship, Oscar Wilde courted her. (Of note: Wilde, often associated with his homosexuality, did in fact eventually marry and have two children. However, several years after marrying, Wilde moved out of his home and became estranged from his wife and children. I digress but only because of wondering about the possible outcome of a Florence/Oscar marriage. Equally noteworthy: Henry Irving, like Wilde, married, then left his wife and children and never remarried.) The Bram-Florence union produced only one child, a son.
Because of Bram’s Lyceum position, the Stokers flew high in London’s cultured society, meeting some of the most famous players of the day, including Bram’s distant relative, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. When Bram began writing Dracula, he was traveling the world for work but never visited the setting for Dracula—Eastern Europe. Instead, he researched the region and vampires mentioned in folklore. Dracula was his first, big literary success. After it, he wrote another Gothic fantasy, The Lair of the White Worm and a biography of his close friend Henry Irving, Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving. Scholars debate the cause of Bram’s death in 1906—some attribute it to a stroke, others to syphilis.
Bram Stoker’s major works
- The Primrose Path
- The Snake’s Pas
- The Watter’s Mou’
- The Shoulder of Shasta
- Miss Betty
- The Mystery of the Sea
- The Jewel of Seven Stars
- The Man (aka The Gates of Life)
- The Lady of the Shroud
- The Lair of the White Worm (aka The Garden of Evil