Abraham (Bram) Stoker was born on November 8, 1847, in Dublin, Ireland. The son of a conservative civil service clerk and the third of seven children, Stoker suffered from a long-standing illness as a child and could not walk by himself until the age of seven. By the time he was a student at Trinity College, however, Stoker was a robust and athletic young man. As a student, he excelled in mathematics and sciences.

After college, Stoker (like his father) took a civil service job at Dublin Castle. There he met Oscar Wilde, a good friend of his parents. Wilde and Stoker both courted Florence Balcombe, an actress who became Stoker’s wife and with whom he had one son, Irving Noel Thornley Stoker. Stoker’s son was named, in part, after his good friend Henry Irving, a famous stage actor of the day whose Lyceum theatre Bram Stoker managed for many years. As a journalist, drama critic and author, Bram Stoker’s life in London also brought him into contact with such literary figures as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Alfred Lord Tennyson. Although Stoker wrote prolifically, none of his other work achieved the popular success and lasting fame of Dracula, which was first published in 1897.

In terms of style, Dracula contains elements of the Gothic tradition, a popular nineteenth century genre that typically features gloomy settings and damsels in distress. As the characters travel between Dracula’s Transylvania and late nineteenth-century industrialized London, however, it may also be read as an exploration of the clash between the old world and the new. The character of Count Dracula is derived from a real fifteenth-century figure, Vlad Dracula, the Prince of Wallachia, or Vlad the Impaler, who was known for his brutality as a general, which included such dreadful tactics as impaling his enemies’ heads on spikes and forcing women to eat their own babies. In Chapter 3 of the novel, Count Dracula proudly recounts to Jonathan Harker the brutal history of his ancestors, clearly linking the fictional character to the real Dracula family....

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Essays About Dracula