04 Feb Abraham ‘Bram” Stoker
Abraham Bram Stoker
Abraham Stoker was born November 8, 1847, in Clontarf, Dublin, Ireland, and lived till April 20, 1912. He was a noted Irish author who is famed for his 1897 Gothic horror classic novel Dracula. Unfortunately, like many famous artists of the time, he was better known for being an assistant to Sir Henry Irving and running the Lyceum Theater than his actual written work.
The Long life before the Vampire
“Oh, the terrible struggle that I have had against sleep so often of late; the pain of the sleeplessness, or the pain of the fear of sleep, and with such unknown horror as it has for me! How blessed are some people, whose lives have no fears, no dreads; to whom sleep is a blessing that comes nightly, and brings nothing but sweet dreams.”
― Bram Stoker, Dracula
Abraham “Bram” Stoker was born at 15 Marino, Cresent Clontarf, in the north of Dublin, Ireland. He was Abraham Stoker’s son, who lived 1799-187, and Charlotte Mathilda Blake Thornley, who lived 1818-1901. They raised their seven children in the County of Sligo. Bram was born the third of seven other siblings; his older brother was Sir Thornley Stoker. They were members of the Church of Ireland Parish of Clontarf.
Bram spent much of his early life bedridden; the doctors could not diagnose what was ailing him at the time; fortunately, his illness dissipated, and he managed to make a start his schooling education, where he made a complete recovery. He was famously quoted and write, “I was naturally thoughtful, and the leisure of long illness allowed many thoughts which were fruitful according to their kind in later years.”
Once fully recovered, Bram never experienced symptoms or any other concerning illnesses. He participated in multiple sports as he grew up and was a recognized athlete at Trinity College located in Dublin. Abraham Stoker attended his alma matter from 1864 to 1870.
Once he obtained his BA, he then proceeded to get his MA, which he completed in 1875. In his later years, Abraham Stoker had mentioned that Bram had managed to graduate with the title of “honors in mathematics.” Still, there is little evidence that this actually happened and might just have been a mistake of old age. He worked as an auditor for the College Historical Society and was named president of the University Philosophical Society.
Rising from the Coffin or The Beginning of his Career
“How blessed are some people, whose lives have no fears, no dreads; to whom sleep is a blessing that comes nightly, and brings nothing but sweet dreams.”
― Bram Stoker, Dracula
While alive, Stoker was a reputed businessman and more commonly known for his management of the theater. He started as a theatre critic for the Dublin Evening Mail. Abraham Stoker became interested in the thespian arts while a student. He attended various plays with his friend Dr. Maunsell; the activity became a passion. The Dublin Evening Mian was owned by Sheridan Le Fanu, who also worked as an author of Gothic Tales. It is important to note that at the time, professional critics were unpopular.
The act of ripping apart someone else’s work was not welcomed, yet it might have been a reflection of the poor quality of the general reviews. Bram stood out as his thoughts were eventually seen favorably. In December 1876, Abraham Stoker wrote a positive review of Hamlet, produced by Henry Irving.
The review granted Stoker a dinner invitation with Iriving at the Shelbourne Hotel where he was staying. They both became friends. Stoker was also a prolific author and wrote stories that were published at the London society.
His works included the books: Crystal Cup, the Chain of Destiny, which was done in four parts at The Shamrock publication. While working as a civil servant in Dublin, in 1876, he wrote for the nonfiction Book titled The Duties of Clerks of Petty Session in Ireland, which are now considered the standard work.
His interests were not limited to the theater; he was also an avid enthusiast of many arts. He kept his part by founding the Dublin Sketching Club in 1879.
Love and Art
Abraham Stoker married Florence Balcombe in 1878, a famous beauty who was previously suited by Oscar Wilde, the famed author, and critic. Florence was the daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel James Balcombe of the First Marino Cresent. Stoker was acquainted with Wilde, the author of The Portrait of Dorian Gray. As a student in his University, and managed to propose the would be famed out author membership to the University Philosophical Society while Abraham sat as president.
Oscar was upset with Florence and Abraham regarding their marriage, but eventually, Abraham and Wilde let bygone be bygones and renewed this friendship.
The Stokers then relocated to London; this is where Stocker started a career as an acting manager and then took over the administration of Irving’s Lyceum Theatre in London. He worked at the theater for 27 years.
He welcomed Irving Noel Thornley Stoker, his and Florence’s only son, on December 31, 1879. He found the help of Henry Irving; Stoker found himself rubbing elbow with London’s High Society.
Abraham Stoker became friendly acquaintances with James Abbot McNeill Whistler and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes’s author, and a distant family to Stoker. During this time, Stoker met Hall Caine; it is important to note their friendship being so crucial that Stocker dedicated Dracula to him.
He became a man of some import in London, working so closely with Irving and running one of the oldest theaters that, if anything, the man had the fame of being in a constant state of occupation.
Stoker managed to travel the world but was never really involved in the exploration of Eastern Europe. A strange fact considering Dracula takes place in Transylvania, a Kingdom located in Eastern Europe.
He visited America with Irving and visited the White House, where the famed actor met William McKinley and Roosevelt. The country of North America impressed him. He set to of his novels there, and the character Quincy Morris the American cowboy and explorer from Dracula, was native to America. While in America, he manages to meet one of his idols. Walt Whitman.
A regular visitor at Cruden Bay Scotland between 1983 and 1910, Abraham would usually visit the beautiful countryside to relax. He would frequently take time off his long grueling schedule to holiday at the coastal village of Aberdeen Shire.
During the time spent here, he would lounge and entertain his most excellent hobby. He would write through his stays and even set two of his novels there. Cruden Bay: The Watter’s Mou’ (1985) and The Mystery of the Sea (1902).
Here is where he would start the novel to shake the world and become one of the most essential and famous books and characters to come out of the age. Dracula saw his first pages in 1895 while he stayed at the Kilmarnock Arms Hotel.
The surrounding area with its local castle “Slains Castle” is a possible link that provided inspirations and added descriptions to the Famed Castle Dracula during the novel’s writing. There is little doubt or coincidence that Castle Slain’s rooms also match the room described in Castle Dracula with an octagonal shape.