Saturday, April 20, 2013

Irish novelist Bram Stoker died - 1912

Irish novelist Bram Stoker died on April 20, 1912 in London, England. He is best known today for his 1897 Gothic novel Dracula. During his lifetime, he was better known as personal assistant of actor Henry Irving and business manager of the Lyceum Theater in London, which Irving owned. Stoker was born in Clontarf (near Dublin, Ireland) on November 8, 1847. He was educated at Trinity College, where he won honors in science, mathematics, oratory, history, and composition. After graduating he entered the Irish Civil Service.  In 1876 Stoker met the actor Henry Irving and by 1878 had moved to London where he was acting manager at the famous Lyceum Theater. It was there that Stoker entered into fashionable circles through which we learn much of his character and influences. In the same year Stoker married Florence Balcombe, who was also courted by Oscar Wilde. The Stokers' only child, Noel, was born in 1879.

Stoker's interest in the supernatural and the occult — which would become a salient focus for his later fiction — may have been rooted in his unidentified childhood illness, which supposedly kept him bed-ridden until the age of seven; this seclusion would be compounded by an interest in Irish folklore. Stoker’s first horror tale The Chain of Destiny was published in 1875. He then wrote a collection of children's stories Under the Sunset (1881), and his first novel The Snake's Pass (1890), but he did not realize fame until the overwhelming success of Dracula (1897). The responses in popular periodicals were broad, but generally positive. Stoker continued to write Gothic and fantasy fiction, including The Lair of the White Worm (1911), which would eventually be made into a cult film, and published Henry Irving's biography, Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving (1906). In 1907, he also entered the debate over censorship with the essays "The Censorship of Fiction" and "The Censorship of Stage Plays." On Saturday evening April 20, 1912, Stoker died at his London home from a stroke. His ashes are interred at the Golder’s Green Crematorium in London. 

Michael Thomas Barry is the author of Great Britain’s Literary Legends. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following links:

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