A legacy is a little like a vampire. It’s strong and resolute and difficult to kill. And even if you kill it, you might not have gotten everything it touched or influenced. Bram Stoker is a little like that; a vampire whose legacy is stronger now than it was in his own lifetime.
Abraham “Bram” Stoker was born in Clontarf, Dublin, Ireland on November 8th, 1847, the third of seven children. As a child, Bram Stoker was a sickly boy until seven, when he started school. The illness didn’t seem to deter him much, though; in fact, he almost spoke well of it, saying that it allowed him time to think.
After getting his BA and MA, Stoker worked as a theatre critic for the Dublin Evening Mail. The paper was run by J. Sheridan le Fanu, the author of Carmilla, a Gothic novella about a lesbian vampire. While theatre critics weren’t exactly the top echelon of the literary world, his particular reviews were, in turn, well-reviewed. Eventually, Stoker struck up a friendship with Sir Henry Irving, an inspiration for Count Dracula and perhaps the most famous English actor of the time. Irving hired Stoker on to be his acting manager & business manager of the Lyceum. The work kept Stoker busy; but even then, he found enough time to write one of the greatest works of the 19th century, Dracula.
Alas, Stoker wouldn’t live to see his most famous creation hit its unending peak. Stoker died on April 20th, 1912 – perhaps due to syphilis, perhaps overwork. He died almost penniless; his widow had to auction off the outlines and notes of Dracula with Sotheby’s, where they fetched £2. In fact, while Dracula was critically acclaimed on its release, the public didn’t go out in droves to purchase a copy. It wasn’t until the release of F. W. Murnau’s 1922 film Nosferatu that the Count exploded in popularity.
107 years after his death, Bram Stoker is still one of the most important authors of the last few centuries. Vampires have contributed over $10 billion to the economy, a number that will likely continue to grow. His creation and legacy is inextricably weaved into our culture. And, like many vampires, his legacy will only get stronger with age.
If you’d like to read his most famous work, you can download Dracula here.