Friday, April 22, 2005

Notes on Stoker

The real lives of classic mystery and gothic horror authors make for interesting reading. Their biographies usually (though not always) lack the weirdness and gore about which they wrote -- which sometimes makes them all the more fascinating.

Consider Bram Stoker (1847-1912). His novel Dracula inspired a lasting infatuation with vampirism, one of the very most repulsive forms of criminal deviance. Stoker’s personal story is horribly mundane, by contrast, but contains points of intrigue. Did you know, for example, that he was plagued with fragile health as a child, but as a student at Dublin University became a rugby star? That he once served as drama critic for the Dublin Mail -- without pay? That for many years he was business secretary for Sir Henry Irving, a famous English actor, and that he helped Irving manage the Lyceum Theatre in London? That his other books (which varied greatly in subject matter, from The Lair of the White Worm to a reminiscence of Irving) are all but forgotten, although several of his short stories (including “The Judge’s House”) continue to be popular among aficionados of the supernatural?

Stoker created a character who became much more famous than the actual work of literature. Of the millions worldwide who know of Count Dracula, probably only a small fraction ever read Stoker’s book. Many (if not most) can tell you who Dracula was . . . but not who Stoker was.


Post a Comment

<< Home