Bram Stoker (1847-1912)
Abraham Stoker was born in Dublin, and, as a child, was often sick (ammalato). To entertain him, his mother used to tell him ghost stories. In his adolescence Stoker developed himself into an athlete, playing soccer and being named University Athlete at Trinity College, Dublin. He graduated with honours in Mathematics and became president of the Philosophical Society and the Historical Society.
Bram’s father, a civil servant himself, secured (assicurò) a place for his son at Dublin Castle (1870 – 1877)
Bram maintained ties to Trinity College, returning there frequently to speak on a wide range of topics for the Philosophical Society. He was deeply interested in the Romantic poets, and during these years he established a correspondence with Walt Whitman.
Stoker also became an enthusiastic theatergoer (frequentatore di teatri) and an ardent admirer and friend of the actor Henry Irving, writing remarkable reviews of his works for the local papers. Probably Henry Irving became an important model for the character of Count Dracula.
The writer became a regular guest of the literary and artistic circle of Lady Wilde, Oscar Wilde’s mother and competed with Oscar Wilde for the hand of Florence Balcombe, a beautiful young actress who chose Bram. The two got married in 1878, the same year he left for London with a new job as the business manager of Henry Irving’s Lyceum Theatre.
Stoker continued to work faithfully and tirelessly for Henry Irving until the actor’s death in 1906.
This loss caused Stoker a stroke, but he continued to write fiction and do newspaper-work until his death in 1912.
His most important works include
- The Primrose Path (1875) about a honest Dublin theatrical carpenter, Jerry O’Sullivan, who moves to London, and after several misfortunes is strongly tempted by alcohol.
- The Snake’s Pass (1890) about a troubled romance between an English landlord and an inexpert Celtic peasant. In this book Stoker speaks clearly about the contemporary political climate in Ireland.
- Dracula (1897), his most famous work. Stoker’s interpretation of vampire folklore has powerfully influenced the legendary monsters ever since
- The Jewel of the Seven Stars (1903), a horror novel about an archaeologist’s plot to revive Queen Tera, an ancient Egyptian mummy.
- The Lady of the Shroud (1909), a utopian tale about technological and political progress in Eastern Europe, although Stoker never visited Rumania or Albania himself.
- Lair of the White Worm (also known as The Garden of Evil,1911), a horror novel partly based on the legend of the Lambton Worm. In 1988, it was adapted into a film by Ken Russell.