He was born on November 8, 1847 at Clontarf in Ireland, a coastal village near Dublin. Until he was 8 years old, recurring illness insured that he could neither stand up nor walk on his own. This illness and helplessness was a traumatic experience which is noticeable in his literary work. Everlasting sleep and the resurrection from the dead, which are the central themes of his Dracula, were of great importance for him, because he was forced to spend much of his life in bed.
Not only his illness but also his convalescence were considered miracles by his doctors. After his recovery, he became a normal young man who even became an athlete and soccer-star at the University of Dublin, where he studied history, literature, mathematics and physics at Trinity College. He was also auditor of the College Historical Society. He became a civil servant, a work that couldn't satisfy him. So he started to work as a journalist and as a drama critic (The Evening Mail). His interest in theatre lead to a lifelong friendship with the actor Henry Irving.
Stoker married Oscar Wilde's former girlfriend Florence Balcombe in 1878 and moved with her to London where he became business manager of Irving's Lyceum Theatre, a post he held for 27 years. The collaboration with Irving was very important for Stoker. Through him he became involved in London's high society, where he met James McNeil Whistler and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In the course of Irving's tours he got the chance to travel around the world.
He supplemented his income by writing a large number of sensational novels, his most famous being the vampire tale Dracula which he published in 1897. Parts of it are set around the town of Whitby, where he was living at the time. Dracula is the basis of countless films and plays.
An interesting critical interpretation of the novel is Talia Schaffer's recent "Homoerotic History of Dracula." Schaffer's analysis is a fairly convincing attempt to "out" Bram Stoker, or to prove that he was a closeted homosexual using his fiction as an outlet for the frustrations of concealing his true sexuality. His marriage to Oscar Wilde’s former girlfriend is also a point of contention. Schaffer analyzes a wealth of detail suggesting that Stoker modeled Dracula closely on the events of Oscar Wilde's public scandal over his conviction for sodomy. Stoker's trauma over his friend and countryman's public humiliation provided the grist for the catharsis of writing the novel. Much of the sexual aspect of the novel is from his hero, Long Island poet Walt Whitman. (Talia Schaffer, "'A Wilde Desire Took Me'": The Homoerotic History of Dracula," ELH 61 (1994), 381-425)
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