Bram Stoker Report

.. ublishing house of Sampson, Lowe wrote to Stoker expressing interest in a collection of his stories. He published Under The Sun, a collection of children’s stories in 1881. Many critics thought the book was unsuitable for children because of the dark, and macabre stories that were in it. One story tells how an orphan girl tries to warn the people of her town of an impending plague, portrayed as a ghost that loomed over the town.

In 1883 Henry Irving took the entire production on tour to America. They traveled by train from New York to San Francisco and from New Orleans to Montreal never once canceling a performance. Their first tour of America was such a success they toured every year up to 1887. In 1888 The Lyceum began the production of Macbeth, this was also the year Jack the Ripper terrorized the Whitechapel area. For the next few years the Lyceum Theater continued to bring in money with Irving, Stoker, and Loveday (who called themselves the Unholy Trinity) leading the way and each year they still did a sold out tour of America.

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In the spring of 1895 Irving became the first actor to receive a knighthood from the queen. In 1890, when his romance novel The Snake’s Pass was published, he was already making notes for a novel with a vampire theme. In August Stoker, looking for a quiet place to write, took a walking tour of the Scottish coast between Peterhead and Aberdeen, he returned to Cruden Bay, where he had been five years earlier to do research for the play Macbeth. He rented a room at the Kilmarnock Arms Hotel in the small fishing village. The next morning he hiked to nearby Slains Castle which he used as his inspiration for the castle in his book. Here at the castle he began work on his most famous book Dracula.

He didn’t finish the book at this time, he returned the next summer to write the final pages. The ending of the book was changed, perhaps to leave it opened for a sequel, in the manuscript the castle is destroyed but in the novel this 195 word ending is taken out: “As we looked there came a terrible convultion of the earth so that we seemed to rock to and fro and fell to our knees. At the same moment, with a roar which seemed to shake the very heavens, the whole castle and the rock and even the hill on which it stood seemed to rise into the air and scatter in fragments while a mighty cloud of black and yellow smoke volume on volume in rolling grandeur was shot upwards with inconceivable rapidity. From where we stood it seemed as though the one fierce volcano burst had satisfied the need of nature and that the castle and the structure of the hill had sunk again into the void. We were so appalled with the suddenness and the grandeur that we forgot to think of ourselves.(Belford, p.268)” Vampires in literature were nothing new by the time Stoker wrote Dracula; the first fictional vampire was Lord Ruthven from the book Glenarvon. This book was written in 1816 at the Villa Diodati, where Lord Byron asked his guests to each write a ghost story.

It was at the same time and place that Mary Shelley created her famous novel Frankenstein. Other well known vampire novels include; The Vampyre, The Feast of Blood, The Castle of Otranto, and The Mysteries of Udolpho. Stoker found the name Dracula in a book he was researching entitled An Account of The Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia. In this book there was a section on a prince of Wallachia “Voivode Dracula” who fought the Turks. Voivode Dracula was better known to the world as Vlad the Impaler, the cruel prince of Wallachia who ruled in the 14th century.

Dracula in the Wallachian language means son of the devil, or son of the dragon. Stoker scrapped his original name for the main character who he was going to call Count Wampyr. On May 18th at 10:15am Stoker held a prepublication copyright reading of Dracula at the Lyceum Theater. The program that day read Dracula or the Un-Dead, Stoker was still undecided about which he liked better. The name was changed to the Un-Dead two days later, and to Dracula six days after that.

Dracula debuted at booksellers on May 26th, 1897 On Friday October 13th, 1905 five nights into a six night run of Tennyson’s play Becket as he left the stage after the performance he followed his normal routine. He then got into a cab and rode to the Midland Hotel; when he entered the lobby he stumbled to the floor, after being helped to a chair he lost consciousness and died, he was 67 years old. One year later Stoker published his novel Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving. After Irving’s death Stoker served on the literary staff of the Daily Telegraph, wrote articles for the New York World, and wrote extensively on the censorship of novels of the day. On March 3rd, 1911 he began work on his last novel The Lair of the White Worm, which he completed on June 12th, that same year.

Many historians attribute the books strange plot, about a 200 foot long and 2000 year old giant worm-woman named Lady Arabella, to drug induced hallucinations. In the last year of his life Stoker suffered from a number of illnesses from: Bright’s Disease (a painful kidney disease), gout, syphilis, and exhaustion. On April 15th, 1912 Florence Stoker rushed to her husbands bedroom to tell him that the luxury liner Titanic had sunk the night before. Five days later April 20th, the day the investigation into the Titanic disaster began, Bram Stoker died at the age of 64. His death certificate listed three causes of death: Locomotor Ataxy (tertiary syphilis), Granular Contracted Kidney (Bright’s Disease), and exhaustion.

The story of Dracula has been played out many times over in Hollywood with the most famous being; Nosferatu (1928), Dracula (1931) starring Bela Lugosi, Count Dracula (1971) starring Christopher Lee, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) starring Gary Oldman. It was first a Broadway stage play in the late 1920’s. It’s leading actor, Bela Lugosi, would go on to play the original Dracula and play the part in over 80 other horror movies. Dracula still remains the one work Bram Stoker is remembered for and today, over 100 years after it was published, it remains one of the most popular books of all time. Biographies.

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