Born on this day in 1847: Bram Stoker.
Stoker was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, the third of seven children. He worked as a theater critic for the Dublin Evening Mail and the manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London, all while writing. His first novel, The Primrose Path, was published in 1875.
Stoker’s most famous novel, Dracula, published in 1897, was his first horror novel. The tale of Count Dracula, a vampire, and the thrall he held over Mina Murray, was popular when first published, and only grew in popularity when film adaptations came out. The first film adaptation is considered F.W. Munau’s Nosferatu in 1922, but Stoker’s widow spent an enormous amount of time in court, arguing that her husband’s novel was used without permission. She eventually won the lawsuit. Tod Browning’s 1931 version of Dracula was the first authorized film version of the story.
In 1878, Stoker married Florence Balcombe. They had one child, a son. Historians speculate that Stoker was a repressed homosexual. His nearly sexless marriage; friendship with Oliver Wilde; the homoerotic aspects of Dracula; and his public campaign against homosexuality all suggest that Stoker was gay.
In addition to Dracula, Stoker wrote several other horror novels: The Jewel of Seven Stars, about an archaeologist’s attempt to resurrect an ancient Egyptian mummy; The Man, a gothic romance; and The Lair of the White Worm, based on the legend of the Lambton worm, an enormous worm or dragon that terrorized local villages.
Stoker died on April 20, 1912, after suffering a number of strokes.