Bram Stoker

Have you ever heard of Count Dracula? This infamous, bloodsucking villain was the brainchild of Irish author Bram Stoker (1847 to 1912) in his most famous novel, Dracula (1897). As Stoker's characters often pursued romantic subplots while also navigating the presence of supernatural beings or themes, his works, including Dracula, are associated with Gothic Romance.

Get started Sign up for free
Bram Stoker Bram Stoker

Create learning materials about Bram Stoker with our free learning app!

  • Instand access to millions of learning materials
  • Flashcards, notes, mock-exams and more
  • Everything you need to ace your exams
Create a free account

Millions of flashcards designed to help you ace your studies

Sign up for free

Convert documents into flashcards for free with AI!

Table of contents

    Gothic Romance is a genre of literature whose popularity peaked in the late 18th and early 19th century and has continued to various degrees into the present. Gothic Romance combines elements of Romantic and Gothic literature, often containing a mystery and elements of the supernatural.

    Bram Stoker, Portrait, StudySmarterFig. 1 - Bram Stoker was born in Clontarf, the north side of Dublin.

    Bram Stoker: biography

    Bram Stoker's Biography
    Birth:8th November 1847
    Death:20th April 1912
    Father:Abraham Stoker
    Mother:Charlotte Mathilda Blake Thornley
    Spouse/Partners:Florence Balcombe (1878-1912)
    Famous Works:
    • The Snakes Pass
    • Dracula
    • The Lady of the Shroud
    • The Lair of the White Worm
    Literary Period:Victorian

    During his childhood, Stoker developed an unknown illness that left him unable to stand or walk until the age of seven. Throughout this time, his mother, Charlotte Stoker, kept him entertained with true stories of the cholera epidemic in the northwest of Ireland which took place during her own childhood. Many of these stories involved mass graves and grim tales of people nearly being buried alive.

    Do any elements from the stories told to Bram Stoker by his mother sound familiar to you? Do you think they could have influenced any of Stoker's later work?

    Despite the health issues he experienced as a child, Stoker was highly athletic in his later youth. He played football at Trinity College in Dublin, from where he also graduated with a degree in mathematics in 1870. In 1897, Stoker was described by the Houston Daily Post as

    An athletic man, with pointed blonde beard and the shoulders of a college oarsman.1

    Following graduation, Stoker worked in the civil service at Dublin Castle. During this time he also volunteered as an unpaid drama critic for the Dublin Evening Mail and wrote stories for magazines including 'Crystal Cup' which was published by the London Society in 1872, and 'The Chain of Destiny' which was published in four parts in The Shamrock in 1875.

    Whilst volunteering as a drama critic, Stoker made the acquaintance of actor Sir Henry Irving who was an English actor. From 1878 until Irving’s death in 1905, Stoker acted as Irving’s manager. In 1878, Bram Stoker and his wife, Florence, moved to London where Stoker would go on to work for 27 years as Henry Irving's acting manager and the business manager of Irving's Lyceum Theatre.

    Stoker's time as manager for Henry Irving opened many doors for him. Through Irving, Stoker became involved in London's high society and, among other famous authors and figures, Stoker met the British writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who is best known for creating the character Sherlock Holmes. Stoker also had the opportunity to travel the world as part of Irving's tours.

    During this period in Stoker's life, he also ventured into writing fiction novels and, in 1890, published the romantic thriller set in bleak Western Ireland, The Snake’s Pass. Seven years later, in 1897, Stoker published the work that gained him global fame: Dracula.

    Following Irving’s death in October 1905, Stoker published Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving in 1906. Other than continuing to write and publish novels, Stoker also managed productions at the Prince of Wales Theatre.

    Derived from his admiration of Henry Irving and the homoerotic themes present in Dracula, there has been some speculation among literary critics that Stoker was homosexual:

    • '"A Wilde Desire Took Me": The Homoerotic History of Dracula' (Schaffer, 1994).
    • 'Heterosexual Horror: Dracula, the Closet, and the Marriage-Plot' (McCrea, 2010).
    • 'The Mediation of the Feminine: Bisexuality, Homoerotic Desire, and Self-Expression in Bram Stoker's Dracula' (Howes, 1988).

    Do you think that this critical analysis of Dracula (1897) would impact your own reading of the novel? Take a look at one or all of the articles above – what do you think of their arguments?

    Only a few months after Henry Irving’s death, Stoker had a debilitating stroke. Following his stroke, Stoker mostly retired, however, he continued to write and publish works of Gothic Romance until the end of his life, including The Lady of the Shroud (1909) and The Lair of the White Worm (1911).

    During the final years of his life, Stoker had a private and financially unstable existence, and he received financial aid from the Royal Literary Society. Five days after the sinking of the Titanic, Bram Stoker died on 20 April 1912. Stoker’s death went largely unnoticed by papers that were crammed full of survivor accounts and the obituaries of wealthy society members from the sinking of the Titanic. The Times in London did contain an obituary for Stoker, but only on page 15.

    The root of Stoker’s death is debated, but many believe that one of the causes was syphilis, for which there was no cure at the time.

    Bram Stoker's legacy

    During his life, Stoker’s fame was not for his contribution to literature. Although he wrote a total of 12 novels, The Times' obituary for Stoker focused on his role as manager to Henry Irving and his contribution to the success of the Lyceum Theatre, and the only piece of Stoker's work mentioned in the obituary was Reminiscences of Henry Irving.

    However, today Stoker is most known for being part of the Gothic Romance literary movement, producing works of Gothic and Romantic fiction. Dracula’s enormous cultural impact came much later, through its reproduction in TV, film and literature. From Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles series to Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight, Vampires remain a central feature of film and literature today – and Dracula is one of the blueprints.

    Bram Stoker: books

    The books that were written by Bram Stoker are as follows:

    The Snakes Pass (1890)

    The Snakes Pass is one of Stoker’s first Gothic Romance novels. The novel is set in West Ireland, and it follows the story of Arthur Severn who encounters a man named Jerry Scanlan at a local bar in Carnacliff. Scanlan tells Severn the story of Shleenanaher, a place where the King of Snakes remained after he was driven out of Ireland by Saint Patrick.

    Arthur Severn is told a number of stories, including that of an evil villain in the town known as Black Murdock. As the novel progresses, a romance develops between Severn and the character of Norah Joyce, whose father lost his land to Black Murdock after taking out a loan from him. After many trials and tribulations, the novel’s protagonists take back Phelim, Joyce’s land, and Arthur Severn and Norah Joyce are eventually married.

    Before it was published as a novel, the story was serialised in a number of publications, including The People (London, England), The Newcastle Courant (Newcastle Upon Tyne, England), and the Weekly Mail (Cardiff, Wales).

    Dracula (1897)

    Dracula is a piece of epistolary fiction, which means that it was written in the form of diaries and journals.

    Bram Stoker, Dracula, StudySmarterFig. 2 - Dracula was inspired by Vlad the Impaler's thirst for blood.

    The diary entries and letters provide a variety of perspectives throughout the book, allowing the story to be told through the eyes of Jonathan Harker, Wilhelmina ('Mina') Harker (née Murray), Dr John ('Jack') Seward, and Lucy Westenra.

    The novel tells the tale of a Transylvanian vampire, Count Dracula, who makes his way to England where he feeds on the blood of the innocent. Led by Dr Abraham Van Helsing, Johnathan Harker and his friends overpower and destroy Dracula.

    Did you know: Dracula wasn’t the first vampire novel in English literature. John Polidori’s 1819 short story, 'The Vampyre', preceded Stoker’s novel by nearly 70 years.

    The legacy of Dracula was supported by Florence Stoker, who published her husband's collection of short stories, Dracula's Guest, posthumously in 1914.

    Furthermore, Dracula's reproduction in other literary works, television, and film, has led to its continued fame. The very first cinematic adaptation of Dracula, Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror, was a silent film released in 1922.

    In January 2020, the BBC released a three-episode TV series of Dracula that was very loosely based on Stoker’s novel. In 1992, Francis Ford Coppola directed his own film version of Dracula, starring Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, and Keanu Reeves.

    In 2009, over 100 years after the novel’s publication, Bram Stoker's grandnephew Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt produced Dracula: The Un-Dead, a sequel to the original novel set in London in 1912. The novel is based on Stoker's own notes from the original Dracula, and even includes Bram Stoker as a character!

    Despite travelling widely, Stoker never visited Eastern Europe, one of the key inspirations for and settings of Dracula. However, prior to Dracula’s publication, Stoker met Ármin Vámbéry, a Hungarian-Jewish writer and traveller. Stoker was well underway with his writing of the novel, however, it is possible that some of its themes may have emerged from Vámbéry's stories of the Carpathian mountains.

    The Lady of the Shroud (1909)

    The Lady of the Shroud also takes the form of an epistolary novel. The novel follows Rupert Saint Leger, who inherits his uncle’s estate on the condition that he must live for a year in a castle in the Land of the Blue Mountains on the Dalmatian coast.

    The novel centres on the theme of the supernatural. After being visited by a woman wearing a wet shroud, seeking warmth, Leger allows her to dry off by the fire, however, she flees the next morning. Over the course of the woman’s visits, Leger finds himself falling in love with her (and also thinking that she is a Vampire!)

    This novel follows a heroic arc, in which Rupert Leger, the hero of the story, saves the woman (whose name he learns is Teuta) and her father from a party of Turkish troops. It is revealed that Teuta is the daughter of the local Voivode and was falsely declared dead (and then a Vampire) after she fell into a trance.

    After Rupert’s heroic rescue, the two are married, and Teuta reveals their marriage to her father, who accepts Rupert into the family.

    Voivode: a local governor or ruler who is semi-independent from the monarchy.

    The Lair of the White Worm (1911)

    The Lair of the White Worm was published one year before Stoker’s death and is perhaps one of his most ‘unhinged’ novels. Unlike Stoker’s earlier works, this novel is a horror story with no romantic aspects.

    The novel follows the journey of Adam Salton, an Australian who goes to meet his great-uncle, Richard Salton, in England after being contacted by him in 1860. Richard announces that, as Adam is his only living relative, he wishes to make Adam the heir to his estate called Lesser Hill.

    After travelling there, Adam finds himself at the centre of a series of mysterious events. The novel’s story is partly based on 'The Lambton Worm', the legend from North East England of a giant white worm with the ability to transform into a woman.

    The Lair of the White Worm was adapted into a British horror film in 1988, starring Hugh Grant and Amanda Donohoe.

    Key themes in Bram Stoker’s works

    The key themes in Bram Stoker's works are weather, the supernatural, and real-life locations.

    The weather

    Dark weather is a common aspect of Gothic Literature. This technique is known as pathetic fallacy and intends to create a certain mood from descriptions of the weather. In the case of Stoker’s writing, bleak landscapes are utilised to create an eerie mood.

    The Snakes Pass opens with a storm that interrupts the travels of the protagonist, Arthur Severn. Alongside this, dangerous events are often preceded by the presence of clouds or fog.

    There is also a 'shifting bog' in the novel, described as a 'carpet of death' by the townspeople. Arthur Severn chooses to remain in the town, partly to examine this bog that consumes anything in its path. Eventually, the bog consumes the novel’s villain, Murdock.

    The supernatural

    From Cathy’s ghost in Wuthering Heights to Frankenstein’s inhuman creation (Adam) in Frankenstein, the supernatural is a fundamental part of Gothic literature that is also present in all of Stoker’s works of fiction.

    In The Lady of the Shroud, the protagonist, Rupert, initially believes that his love interest, Teuta, is a vampire. Dracula follows the story of Count Dracula, an actual vampire who ventures to London to prey on innocent victims.

    Real-life locations

    Many of the settings for Stoker’s writing were influenced by real locations he visited throughout his life.

    Stoker took lengthy holidays to Cruden Bay in Scotland between 1893 and 1910. These holidays provided the time for Stoker to write his novels and the location acted as inspiration for some of his writing. Both The Watter's Mou' (1895) and The Mystery of the Sea (1902) were set in Cruden Bay.

    Stoker started writing Dracula on a holiday to Cruden Bay in 1895. The nearby Slains Castle (also known as New Slains Castle) has been suggested to have provided the visual palette for the descriptions of Castle Dracula in Dracula (1897). The coastal town of Whitby which Stoker visited in 1890 is also said to be part of Stoker's inspiration.

    Bram Stoker, a large derelict castle on a hill by the sea, StudySmarterFig. 3 - Slains Castle in Cruden Bay.

    Bram Stoker: facts

    Here are some facts about Bram Stoker's life and works.

    • Bram Stoker was the third eldest of seven children.
    • The park adjacent to Bram Stoker's childhood home, 15 Marino Crescent, Clontarf, is best known as 'Bram Stoker Park'.
    • Bram Stoker remains the only student at Trinity College Dublin to have held the positions of auditor of the College Historical Society and president of the University Philosophical Society.
    • Bram Stoker became acquainted with Oscar Wilde during his time as a student at Trinity College, and he proposed Wilde for membership of the university's Philosophical Society before proposing to Florence Balcombe, whose suitor had previously been Oscar Wilde!
    • While managing Henry Irving, Stoker visited the White House twice and met William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt while he was there.
    • Stoker's original typescript of Dracula was believed to have been lost until it was found in a barn in northwestern Pennsylvania. The title of this script was 'THE UN-DEAD.'
    • Stoker was a member of The London Library and conducted much of the research for Dracula there. In 2019, Creation Theatre Company put on a production of Dracula in the library.

    Famous Bram Stoker quotes

    The following are quotes from Bram Stoker's most well-known works.

    I am all in a sea of wonders. I doubt; I fear; I think strange things, which I dare not confess to my own soul.

    (Chapter II, Dracula)

    The novel's protagonist, Jonathan Harker, speaks this because he experiences a sense of unease and uncertainty during his stay at Count Dracula's castle in Transylvania. Harker is grappling with a growing sense of dread as he realizes that his host is not what he seems, and he is struggling to make sense of the strange occurrences he has witnessed.

    I am longing to be with you, and by the sea, where we can talk together freely and build our castles in the air.

    (Chapter V, Dracula)

    This quote is spoken by Mina Harker, Jonathan's fiancée, as she expresses her longing to be reunited with him and escape the confines of their everyday lives. The idea of building castles in the air suggests a desire for imagination and escape from reality, which is a recurring theme in the novel.

    Remember my friend, that knowledge is stronger than memory, and we should not trust the weaker.

    (Chapter X, Dracula)

    Van Helsing serves as the novel's chief vampire hunter. Van Helsing is emphasizing the importance of knowledge and reason in confronting the supernatural threat of Dracula and warns his fellow hunters not to rely on their memories or emotions when dealing with the vampire.

    She was young and very beautiful, but pale, like the grey pallor of death.

    (Book III: The Coming of the Lady, The Lady of the Shroud)

    This quote describes the appearance of the novel's titular character, the Lady of the Shroud, who is said to be beautiful but deathly pale. The image of her pallor reinforces her association with death and the supernatural and adds to the eerie atmosphere of the novel.

    After all, he was only a man, with a man's dislike of difficult or awkward situations.

    (Chapter XIII, The Lair of the White Worm)

    Adam Salton is presented as a typical young man with human flaws and weaknesses. The statement suggests that even in the face of supernatural danger, humans are still subject to the limitations of their own nature, including a reluctance to confront difficult or awkward situations.

    Bram Stoker (1847-1912) - Key Takeaways

    • Bram Stoker was an Irish novelist who lived from 1847 to 1912.
    • Stoker wrote a total of 12 novels in his life, the majority of them were part of the Gothic Romance genre.
    • Some of Stoker's most famous novels include; The Snakes Pass (1890), Dracula (1897), The Lady of the Shroud (1909) and The Lair of the White Worm (1911)
    • Common themes in Stoker's work are the weather and the supernatural.

    1 'Points about People.' The Houston Daily Post, Houston, Texas, 6 March 1897, published in The Bram Stoker Estate.

    Frequently Asked Questions about Bram Stoker

    Who is Bram Stoker?

    Bram Stoker was an Irish writer who lived from 1847 to 1912.

    When did Bram Stoker write Dracula?

    Bram Stoker wrote Dracula in 1897

    What inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula?

    Stoker likely had many inspirations for Dracula, one of them being the stories of the Carpathian mountains told to him by Ármin Vámbéry.

    What is Bram Stoker’s most famous work?

    Stoker's most famous work is Dracula (1897).

    Who did Bram Stoker base Dracula on?

    We can't know for certain who Stoker based the character of Dracula on, however many believe it was Vlad the Impaler who was prince of Wallachia in the 15th century.

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    What is Bram Stoker believed to have died of?

    What did Bram Stoker's mother tell him stories about when he was a child?

    Which of these is a book not written by Bram Stoker?


    Discover learning materials with the free StudySmarter app

    Sign up for free
    About StudySmarter

    StudySmarter is a globally recognized educational technology company, offering a holistic learning platform designed for students of all ages and educational levels. Our platform provides learning support for a wide range of subjects, including STEM, Social Sciences, and Languages and also helps students to successfully master various tests and exams worldwide, such as GCSE, A Level, SAT, ACT, Abitur, and more. We offer an extensive library of learning materials, including interactive flashcards, comprehensive textbook solutions, and detailed explanations. The cutting-edge technology and tools we provide help students create their own learning materials. StudySmarter’s content is not only expert-verified but also regularly updated to ensure accuracy and relevance.

    Learn more
    StudySmarter Editorial Team

    Team English Literature Teachers

    • 16 minutes reading time
    • Checked by StudySmarter Editorial Team
    Save Explanation Save Explanation

    Study anywhere. Anytime.Across all devices.

    Sign-up for free

    Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.

    Join over 22 million students in learning with our StudySmarter App

    The first learning app that truly has everything you need to ace your exams in one place

    • Flashcards & Quizzes
    • AI Study Assistant
    • Study Planner
    • Mock-Exams
    • Smart Note-Taking
    Join over 22 million students in learning with our StudySmarter App
    Sign up with Email

    Get unlimited access with a free StudySmarter account.

    • Instant access to millions of learning materials.
    • Flashcards, notes, mock-exams, AI tools and more.
    • Everything you need to ace your exams.
    Second Popup Banner