Can there be anyone in the world who hasn’t heard of Dracula? He was the main component of a gothic novel by Abraham “Bram” Stoker and here I am outside the Whitby boarding house where he stayed.
Bram Stoker almost didn’t live. When he was pushed out into the world the doctor thought the baby was stillborn and put him to one side. He made it though, born the third of seven children who lived near Dublin. He couldn’t join in what must have been a noisy hectic household. He was sickly lad and couldn’t stand up on his own until he was seven years old. Spending years lying down he lost himself in literature and this probably helped his imagination develop (also his mother entertained him with tales and accounts of death and disease.) Nobody knows what the medical problem was but after starting school Bram made a full recovery.
Though he would become a novelist he graduated from Trinity College, Dublin with a BA in Mathematics. This was almost useless as, through a friend, he had become interested in the theatre. He was friends was Oscar Wilde at university and this friendship would be tested soon. He soon started writing theatre reviews for the Dublin Evening Mail. Writing didn’t stop there and he was writing stories in his spare time, the first one published in a magazine at 29.
Soon he was working as a civil servant in Dublin but always writing at night. At 31 he got married to Florence Balcombe who had been engaged to Oscar Wilde. Oscar was upset by this but soon got over it and his friendship with Bram resumed.
The Stokers moved across the water to London. It’s thought Bram’s actor friend Henry Irving got him a job at the Lyceum Theatre, London. He was suited to it and was the business manager for the next 27 years. The Stoker’s had their child, Irving, named in respect of his good chum (he idolised him.)
Bram became heavily involved in London's high society where he met some big names like James Whistler and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Through theatre tours Bram got the see the world but he never visited Easter Europe where Dracula was set. All the time he was writing and had his first novel published aged 43. One night Bram saw a man fall into the River Thames. Though he dragged the man out of the water and carried him to his own home he died on the kitchen table.
So where did the horror novel Dracula - set in Whitby - come from? Bram had met a Hungarian writer who wrote dark stories set in the of the Carpathian mountains. He then spent years researching European folklore stories about vampires. Perhaps he read about Vlad the Impaler, the 15th-century Transylvanian-born prince also known as Vlad III Dracula of Wallachia. With this in his head Bram visited Whitby aged 43 and the craggy landscape and ruins on the hill probably inspired Dracula. In the novel Dracula jumps off a ship onto the rocks at Whitby.
Bram wrote twelve novels and three books of short stories. Dracula was the big one and the original 541-page manuscript was believed to have been lost until it was found in a barn in Pennsylvania in the 1980's. The title page showed the book was called “The Un-Dead”, not Dracula (this manuscript was bought by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.)
Bram died at age 64 after suffering a number of strokes. He breathed his last breath at 26, St George's Square, Westminster, a large end terraced house looking onto a charming square. Some biographers attribute the strokes to syphilis and others to overwork but nobody knows. He was cremated and his ashes put in an urn at Golders Green Crematorium. The plan was for his wife’s ashes to be added to the urn but for some reason her ashes were scattered in the Gardens Of Rest. However their son’s ashes were put into the urn. This urn is on display but visitors are shown it under escort to prevent theft.
So far more than 1000 novels and 200 films have been made about the vampire Dracula.
So here I am at the house where Bram stayed (I even touched the door handle – could it be the original one?) The house is now flats. I walked up to the spooky cemetery and ruins at the top of the steps. Surely Bram walked up here – as many Goths do now- and absorbed the atmosphere.
The link : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bram_Stoker
Heading up to the graveyard…surely Bram walked up here….
Surely Bram walked around this graveyard…
I’d read Dracula was buried here (I'm sure he was real...)
Ooowww, impressive view…
Up near the ruins…
Bram Stoker stayed in a house around there…
20, St George’s Square, Westminster, London where Bram died…..also his ashes at Golder’s Green Crematorium…