Thursday, October 8, 2015

Let's talk about: Bram Stoker

Abraham "Bram" Stoker was born on November 8, 1847 in Dublin, Ireland. 
He was the third of seven children. 
Bram became ill at a young age and was stuck in bed, never standing up without help, until he started school at the age of seven. At this time he made a complete recovery. While sick in bed his mother would tell him many stories, some of them horror, that probably influenced his later writings.

"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 went to a private school run by Reverend William Woods. He grew up without any more health issues and, in fact, became an athlete while attending Trinity College in Dublin. He was even named University Athlete. 
He was auditor of the College Historical Society, The Hist, and President of the University Philosophical Society. He graduated with honors as a B.A. in Math. 

After his time at Trinity, he became a theater critic for the Dublin Evening Mail. No one thought much of critics at the time but they noticed Bram because of how well written his reviews were. He wrote a good review of Henry Irving's Hamlet at the Theatre Royal in December of 1876 and Irving then invited him to dinner at the Shelbourne Hotel where he was staying. 
They became quick friends. 

During this time he was also writing stories. In 1872 The Crystal Cup was published by the London Society and then The Chain of Destiny was published in four parts in "The Shamrock". 
He wrote a non-fiction book in 1876 called The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland while he was working as a civil servant, and it became a standard work. 

In 1878 Bram married Florence Balcombe, an aspiring actress, and they moved to London. Bram became the acting manager and then business manager of Henry Irving's Lyceum Theatre. He worked there for twenty seven years. Stoker was able to travel to many places with Irving's tours and as his personal secretary.
During this time he also began writing many novels. 

On December 31, 1879, Bram and Florence had a son, Irving Noel Thornley Stoker. He would be their only child. 

In 1890, Bram visited the town of Whitby in England. He stayed in a house on the West Cliff. It is said that he really enjoyed the town, the Whitby Abbey, the church's tombstones and the bats flying around many of the churches. I read that while staying in Whitby, Bram was looking at the ruins of the Abbey and imagined he saw a person or creature climbing up the walls. That sparked an idea in him. There is even a Bram Stoker Memorial Seat in Whitby. You can look across the harbor from that spot and see the Abbey, the church, and the stone steps. There is an inscription on the bench that reads, "The view from this spot inspired Bram Stoker to use Whitby as the setting of part of his world-famous novel Dracula."

 Before writing Dracula, he met Armin Vambery, a Hungarian writer and traveler who told him stories of the Carpathian mountains. He spent seven years researching the European folklore and stories of vampires. 
Bram returned to Whitby and stayed in the Royal Hotel while writing Dracula. A lot of the book takes place in Whitby using the places he would have seen while there. It is said that people still come to Whitby looking for "Dracula's grave", not realizing he is fictional. 

 After suffering from many strokes, Bram died on April 20, 1912. He was cremated and his ashes were put in a display urn at Golders Green Crematorium. When his son died, his ashes were added to the urn. His wife's were meant to be as well but were, instead, scattered at the Gardens of Rest. Those that want to visit his urn at Golders Green are escorted there to guard against vandalism. 

Over the course of his life, he wrote and published 12 novels and several short story collections.But it is safe to say he is most well known and beloved for Dracula. It is one of my favorite books and I consider him one of the best writers I have ever read. 


The Kings said...

Are we visiting there while in England?

cheryl said...

If we have time. I want to really bad but it depends on if we are able to see all we want to see in York the night before or if we have to spend time in York that morning.
So I would totally love to go sit on his bench... but we will have to see how time is going that day. It's not far out of the way but would probably add an hour or so with time spent there.