Gentle readers, indulge me if you will. I am going to attempt a new series of posts to keep things lively. I am calling them, On this Day in Literary History. I am hoping to find something of consequence each day that holds some personal meaning to me and share with you a bit of history, a bit of myself, and generally just revel in the lush history that is the written word. So, to begin, here is a writer who has written a book I have read multiple times, whose birthday just happens to be today.
I imagine it was a chilly day in Dublin Ireland the morning of November 8th, 1847. This day would see a literary giant born the third child of a well to do family. Abraham “Bram” Stoker (8 November 1847 – 20 April 1912) would spend much of the first 7 years of his life bedridden. When he recovered, he was enrolled in private school. It is said he attributed his long years of illness beneficial to his thought development. Even excelling at athletics later in life, Bram found early success as a theatre critic with the Dublin Evening Mail. His review of a production of Hamlet garnered him a dinner with the great Henry Irving.
He continued to write short stories, and as a clerk in Dublin wrote a manual on the profession. He also was a founder of the Dublin Sketching Club.
After marrying Florence, much to the chagrin of his friend Oscar Wilde, Bram relocated to London and would embark on a 27 year journey in the employ of Henry Irving, first as the acting manager, and later business manager, at Lyceum Theatre. His journey’s took him through much of Europe and even to the United States where he met two presidents, and one of his idol’s, Walt Whitman (a personal favorite of mine as well). During his time in London’s high society, Bram would also become friends with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (another favorite of mine). Quite lucky of him I think to have hobnobbed with such famous personages.
His only child, Irving Noel Thornley Stoker, was born during his time in London. Father and son were both cremated upon their deaths, son being added to father some 50 years later. Their final resting place, Golders Green Crematorium, is a tourist destination where visitors are escorted to see the urn containing this literary legends ashes.
There is a festival I would love to attend held in late October to celebrate the life and work of Bram Stoker. If you are ever in Dublin around this time, I suggest you check it out.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula was probably the first “horror” novel I ever got my hands on. I devoured it quickly. I have watched both the “unauthorized” adaptation (according to Bram’s wife, Florence), titled “Nosferatu”, and the authorized version starring Bela Lugosi. The story of Dracula is so permeated in popular culture that many purists have resented the recent “sparkly” vampires. I have read many vampire stories, including Twilight, but I always come back to Stoker’s excellent tale. Hopefully one day soon I will be able to share this book with my son. I don’t this would particular scare him or anything, but just that he doesn’t quite sit still long enough for longer books yet. For anyone reading this who hasn’t read Dracula. I suggest you add it to your To Be Read list asap.