Stoker on Stoker: Celebrating History on Bram Stoker’s Birthday

Dacre Stoker, great nephew of Bram Stoker, visiting author speaking at UNG Cumming campus.

Bram Stoker was born on November 8, 1847, in Dublin, Ireland, to a world that was dark and gothic and primed for vampires. Bram suffered from an unknown illness through his childhood, but it complemented the gothic reality of life. Ireland suffered from severe famine and illness, not just in his childhood, but his mother’s as well. She would recount the famine and illness of her own childhood to Bram since it was his favorite bedtime story. Her stories included mass graves whose inhabitants weren’t always dead.

As an adult, Stoker gained a love of the theater and the dramatism that went along with it. He was close friends with Henry Irving and managed Irving’s Lyceum Theatre in London. Bram would research dialogue and culture for the plays, to ensure they were as accurate as possible.

Dacre Stoker is Bram’s great-grandnephew. He decided to follow in his Great-Uncle’s footsteps, and spoke to UNG late September. Dacre’s research provides many clues into Bram’s mind as he wrote Dracula. Bram’s childhood experiences created a dark story, and combined with the skills from his adult career, his story seemed too real.

Dracula is an epistolary novel, meaning it’s written like a journal or diary, making the events more personal and intimate. Bram heavily incorporated current scientific discoveries, such as blood transfusions and the phonograph, and made them essential to Dracula’s defeat. Bram’s theater skills gave him the research and ability to create convincing identities for his characters, cementing the worry that Count Dracula and his undead court were real.

Meeting Dacre Stoker after he spoke at UNG Dahlonega campus.

Dracula possess such well-crafted details, and Dacre’s work helps readers see their favorite vampire in a new horrific light. Bram’ forgotten journal, written between 1871 and 1878, was discovered and published in 2013. In his presentation, Dacre showed many never-before-seen notes about Dracula. Included was an early character page. We saw the early development of Jonathan Harker and Van Helsing’s characters, but we also saw the moment of discovery where Dracula became Dracula. The Count’s description resided at the top of the page, and as Bram worked through the other characters, he found inspiration. The vampire’s previous name was struck, and “Dracula” was written across the page.

Dacre’s research led him to write Dracula’s first authorized sequel, Dracula: The Un-Dead, along with Ian Holt. The novel follows Quincey Harker, Jonathan and Mina’s son, as worry grows that Count Dracula is not truly dead.

If you get the opportunity to, we highly suggest meeting Dacre Stoker and listening to his talk. It’s a rare moment in history to see the creation of folklore, and Dacre’s hard work makes Bram’s life accessible to each vampire-fan, even if they don’t have their own fangs.

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