Table of Contents
Bram Stoker is remembered solely as the author of Dracula. He was also a theatrical personality, barrister, and critic who lived at the hub of late Victorian social and artistic life. His friends belonged to this exclusive circle and were many prominent writers like Oscar Wilde, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Whistler, Gladstone and Tennyson. His ability as a drama critic allowed Stoker to appreciate theater on his on terms. His vampire tale 'Dracula' supposedly was the result of indigestion from a dish of crabs which resulted in a restless night and nightmares.
Born into a Protestant middle class Dublin family in 1847, he was bedridden until the age of seven. During these years he listened and observed amusing himself with fantasy adventures. An indifferent student at Trinity college he followed his grandfather and father into the civil service at Dublin Castle, but was inexorably drawn to the theater as an actor and unpaid drama critic for the Dublin evening mail.
In 1876, he met the charismatic Henry Irving with whom he shared an almost love hate relationship, which according to a critic was "a kind of incestuous, necrophiliac, oral sadistic, all in all wrestling match." Stoker was drawn to Henry Irving and was so deeply influenced that it was almost a spell that Irving had entranced him in almost for a decade. Real life characters inspired his major characters. Abraham Van Helsing, repository of worldly wisdom, doctor, barrister, and psychic detective was appropriately named after Stoker's father and himself. Jonathan Harker was the alter ego i.e. an extension of his personality of the author cultivated for literary purposes, the passionless solicitor who heroically achieves manhood when he slits Dracula's throat with a great khukri knife. Mina Harkin was the epitome of Stoker's mother, brave and loyal. While the frivolous and fragile Lucy, yearning to marry all her suitors echoes Stoker's socially ambitious fiancé, Florence Balcombe. Stoker projected himself into all of Dracula's major characters: there is a little of him in each of them. It is his autobiographical novel.
Stoker joined Henry Irving at London’s Lyceum Theater for two decades of spectacular productions. The beautiful but dowry-less Florence Balcombe, first courted by Oscar Wilde, became his wife. Yet it was tragic that success eluded Bram Stoker as husband, father, novelist playwright, and entrepreneur. His books are The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland (1879), Under the Sunset (1881), A Glimpse of America (1886), The Snake’s Pass (1890), The Watter’s Mou (1895), The Shoulders of Shasta (1895) Dracula (1897), Miss Belty (1898), The Mystery of the Sea etc.