Bram Stoker lived a quiet but nonetheless interesting life. He wrote, ‘Dracula,’ the greatest and most influential vampire story ever written, yet he was more than just the author that wrote ‘Dracula‘ as he tried his hands at a lot of things.
He did not walk till he was seven due to illness
Born in a suburb of Dublin in 1847, Bram Stoker did not grow up like other children. As a result of a debilitating but unexplained illness, Stoker was confined to his bed and could not walk until he was seven years of age. However, despite this, he grew to be tall and strong. When he enrolled at Trinity College Dublin, he was one of the school’s finest athletes, excelling at a wide range of athletics activities.
He was a member of the school’s rugby team and participated in high and long jumping, gymnastics, rowing, and trapeze. He won prizes for weightlifting and endurance walking. He was also the “Dublin University Athletics Sports Champion” of 1867. Stoker’s transformation from a sickly child who could not work to a physically strong one who excelled in athletics is a remarkable one.
Stoker Managed Famous Actor, Henry Irving
Although known to us today more for his work in gothic horror fiction, ‘Dracula‘ specifically, Bram Stoker was much more known during his time as the manager of the famous British actor, Henry Irving. Stoker’s glowing review of Irving’s work had flattered the actor, and when they met, he was also impressed by Stoker’s business sense. He was put in charge of overseeing the operations of Irving’s London theatre, the Lyceum.
The job was an important and tasking one, as Stoker’s duties ranged from organizing tours abroad where Irving and his team performed the most popular lays of the Lycium center to organizing and co-hosting Irving’s dinner parties. He is often credited as being the brains behind much of Irving’s success.
Bram Stoker died in Poverty
Although ‘Dracula‘ is a famous and influential book that found popularity during and after Stoker’s time, Stoker nonetheless died poor. With the death of Henry Irving, who had been his longtime employer, in 1906, Stoker had to look for other means to sustain himself. These included working as a journalist, managing a musical production, and continuing writing of fiction, all of which provided very little reprieve from his financial difficulties.
In addition, he was beginning to have debilitating health problems. In 1906 he suffered from a paralytic stroke that permanently affected his vision. He had also been living with kidney disease for some. Broke and seriously ill, Stoker resorted to appealing to the Royal Literary Fund for financial aid, citing a breakdown from overwork that has left him in doubt as to whether he would be able to produce any literary work again. He would later die on April 20, 1912, at the age of 64.
Bram’s mother introduced him to horror stories
Bram Stoker’s gift for writing horror stories is one even his staunchest critics cannot deny, and it is to his mother that he owes that. Stoker’s bedridden state from birth till he was seven meant he was always at home and entertained by his mother who had a penchant for telling scary stories.
Usually, these stories are based on her own experiences. Her stories are said to be even scarier than Stoker’s fiction but there was a distinct “undead” element to some of them that influenced Stoker’s stories. One notable story from Stoker’s mother involved an inebriated man who was mistaken for dead and only woke up after a blow intending to crush his legs so he would fit into the coffin was struck on him. Her other stories often contained similar elements, like mass graves and cases of the living being buried with the dead.
Stoker Won His Wife from Oscar Wilde’s grip
Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde met after Wilde’s mother Jane Wilde introduced Stoker to her circle. They became great friends and that friendship was tested when they both started a two-year competition over Florence Balcombe’s love. Balcombe had initially dated Wilde but however opted for Bram Stoker, marrying him in 1898. This upset Wilde, even though he was homosexual. Florence would outlive Stoker by 25 years and would live long enough to get into a few disputes with film production houses for plagiarizing Stoker’s Dracula. She would die on the 25th of May 1937.
Did Bram Stoker visit Transylvania before writing Dracula?
No. Bram Stoker never visited Transylvania. He relied on books about the area for information in writing ‘Dracula’
Who introduced Stoker to Horror?
Bram Stoker probably got his taste for telling horror stories from his mother who was fond of telling him horror stories during his childhood.
Was Bram Stoker rich?
Stoker’s had enough to get by as manager to Henry Irving and director of the Irving-owned Lyceum theatre. However, following Irving’s death and the decline of the theater’s popularity, Stoker found himself poverty-stricken.