Bram (Abraham) Stoker was born in 1847 into a large family in Ireland. He was educated at a private school, and attended Trinity College, Dublin, from which he graduated with honours in mathematics.
He became a theatre critic for the Dublin Evening Mail newspaper, which was co-owned by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, author of the vampire novella Carmilla. After giving the actor Henry Irving a favourable review for his performance in Hamlet, he was invited by Irving for tea, and the two soon became friends. Stoker also began to write stories of his own, The Crystal Cup (published by the London Society), and The Chain of Destiny (published in the Shamrock).
Bram Stoker married Florence Balcombe, a celebrated beauty long courted by Oscar Wilde, in 1878. They moved to London, where Stoker took the job of business manager for the Lyceum Theatre. Working for Irving made Stoker a notable man, and introduced him to many famous and influential people in London’s high society. Irving himself made a huge impact on Stoker, and the actor may have been an influence for the imposing and charismatic figure of Count Dracula.
On Irving’s tours, Stoker was given the chance to travel around the world; he was particularly impressed with the United States. Later, he would set two of his novels there. He liked to use Americans as heroic characters, such as Quincey Morris in Dracula.
While working for Irving, Stoker wrote several novels: The Snake’s Pass (1890), Dracula (1897), The Lady of the Shroud (1909), and The Lair of the White Worm (1911). After Irving’s death he wrote and published a life of Irving, which was very popular.
Bram Stoker died in 1912 after suffering a number of strokes. He had one son, Irving Noel Stoker, born in 1879, whose ashes were added to his father’s urn after his death.
The first film adaptation of Dracula was released in 1922 and titled Nosferatu. Bram Stoker’s widow Florence sued the filmmakers, arguing that she had never been asked for permission or been paid any royalties. She finally won the case in 1925, and demanded that all prints of the film be destroyed. Some, however, survived, and the film has become a cult classic.
The first authorised adaptation of Dracula was released in 1931 by Universal Studios, starring Bela Lugosi as the Count. Since then it has become the subject of countless films and plays. At the time it was published, the book received good reviews but was not a bestseller. Stoker would have been truly astonished to see the extent of its power and influence today…