A Short History of Bram Stoker

January 15, 2020

 

 

Bram Stoker is an Irish author who is best known today for his 1897 Gothic novel Dracula, which sparked the classic horror stories we have come to know today.

 

Born as Abraham "Bram" Stoker  on 8 November 1847 he was the third of seven children. Before he started school at the age of seven, he was struck by a mysterious illness that later allowed him to pen his thoughts that proved fruitful to his writing in later years, but once recovered he later went on to study and receive a Bachelor of Arts in 1870, and received an MA in 1875. He was the president of the University Philosophical Society during his school days, and Bram Stoker's first paper was on Sensationalism in Fiction and Society. 

 

After receiving his MA, Bram Stoker became a theatre critic for the Dublin Evening Mail, subsidising his writing which appeared as stories in different society papers and magazines. In 1878, Bram Stoker married Florence Balcombe who was actually a former suitor of the flamboyant playwright Oscar Wilde, whom Stoker maintained a friendship with. Bram and Florence moved to London where they had a child named Irving Noel Thornley Stoker. 

 

In 1895, Bram Stoker began work on his literary masterpiece Dracula, despite never having actually visited Eastern Europe where the novel is set. A lot of the locations were inspired by Cruden Bay in Scotland and the English town of Whitby, places that Stoker holidayed frequently, but Stoker spend many years researching European folklore and mythological stories of vampires before delving into the world of Vlad Dracul. Upon it's release in 1897,  the novel is seen as an epistolary novel, written as a collection of realistic but completely fictional diary entries, telegrams, letters, ship's logs, and newspaper clippings, all of which added a level of detailed realism to the story, a skill which Stoker had developed as a newspaper writer. At the time of its publication, Dracula was considered a "straightforward horror novel" and has since become one of the most iconic horrors ever, along with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

 

Bram Stoker wrote a total of 13 novels and 3 short stories in his heyday, including the 1914 short story Dracula's Guest and Other Weird Stories. It was reported that he had a sexless marriage with Florance after the birth of their son, and his intense adoration of male authors and the homoerotic aspects of Dracula have led to scholarly speculation that Bram Stoker was actually gay and he used his fiction as an outlet for his sexual desires. In 1912, he demanded imprisonment of all homosexual authors in Britain and it has been suggested that this was due to self-loathing and to disguise his own vulnerability.

 

After suffering a number of strokes, Bram Stoker died on 20 April 1912, some biographers attributing the cause of death to syphilis. 

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