STBM: Bram Stoker, father of the modern vampire

Mina hates him and accuses him of spreading anti-vampire propoganda, but millions adore Bram Stoker for creating the world’s first modern vampire in his novel, Dracula, published in 1897. (To download a free version, visit Project Gutenberg.)

Readers might be surprised to know that Stoker, born in Ireland, never visited Eastern Europe and he led a relatively normal life: He married, had a son, had day-jobs in the theater, at a newspaper and as a civil servant.

It was his role as assistant to actor Henry Irving and business manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London that helped launch his assent into the upper echelons of society and literary circles, where he was exposed to the idea of a vampire, as well as Eastern European folklore.

Influence

Stoker spent nearly a decade researching Eastern European vampire folklore before penning Dracula. Major influences include:

  • “Transylvania Superstitions,” an essay by Emily Gerard
  • Carmilla, by Sheridan Le Fanu (who was an associate of Stoker’s)
  • The Vampyre by John Polidori
  • Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia with Political Observations Relative to Them by William Wilkenson

Scholars continue to argue over who and what was an influence, but the bottom line is that Stoker’s Dracula has become an influence of its own, inspiring countless film adaptations and literary spin-offs. Some notable ones include:

But wait, there’s more!

 
Dracula’s Guest is a short story by Stoker, published after his death. It appears to be a deleted chapter or two near the beginning of the story, before Jonathan Harker actually meets Dracula.
More recently, Stoker’s great-grandnephew Dacre Stoker released a sequel, Dracula: The Un-Dead, in 2009. It is based on Bram Stoker’s handwritten notes for characters and plot along with personal research by the younger Stoker and writer Ian Holt.

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