|The Father of Dracula: Bram Stoker
By William Henry Pratt
Few authors can create a character that truly stands
the test of time such as Bram Stoker’s immortal vampire,
Count Dracula. He is a character unlike anything written
before or after, who has all the makings of a hero leading
man, and yet this star of the book that bears his name in
the title is in reality a monster like nothing ever written before. Sure, vampire stories were nothing new, for
100’s of years people told stories about people who come back from the dead to feed upon the living.
Vampires were the main subject in early horror novels such as Varney, a vampire that came before Stoker’
s creation by a good 50 years. Other vampire tales came and went over the years but in 1897 that all was
about to change.
Stoker did not invent the vampire. However the author did create not only the most well-known vampire
in history, but created one of the best known horror icons to ever come along. But who was this author, the
father of the world’s greatest vampire villain of all time? Abraham (Bram) Stoker was born in Dublin Ireland
in 1847. As a young lad, he had a flair for whimsical stories and at age 16 wrote an essay call
Sensationalism in Fiction and Society when he joined a group called The Philosophical Society at the
University at Dublin College. Later he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1870 and later a master’s in 1875.
Abraham Stoker then went to work as a civil servant in the Dublin Castle of Ireland just as he father before
Stoker found his writing in a little newspaper as their drama critic and even though it was for no pay, he
was on his way to becoming the author. He worked his way up to being an editor for a paper called Irish
Echo, but again he was not paid and after the paper was not a success, he left it. After Stoker left the
paper, he started writing his own fiction like most young writers with short stories. His work started
showing up in serial format in local newspapers and his first published work of horror fiction appeared in
The Shamrock in 1875 called The Chain of Destiny.
By 1890, now living in London amidst writing short stories and other tales, Stoker started on a novel, a
novel that would once day change the world. Drawing from old vampire folklore handed down from
generation to generation and a nightmare he once had, Bram Stoker set out to write his vampire story.
With a working title of The Undead, Stoker started the novel that we know. But when he came across a
name in history of a very real monster from Romania, Stoker used it and changed the title of his vampire
tale to that of Dracula. The man he modeled his creature on was Vlad The Impaler, a 13th century mad
man who hung his victims from wooden stakes shoved up their rear end and watch with glee as their
screaming bodies slid down the shaft all while still alive until the point of the stake forced its way out the
victims crying mouth. With this image of a real monster, Stoker took Vlad’s nickname and used it as the
name of his evil vampire…..Dracula.
After his masterpiece Dracula was published in 1897, it received mixed reviews. Some loved its dark
overtones and gothic storyline while others didn’t care for it and panned the book. Stoker went on to
produce his own stage performance of his novel on a weekday morning to only a hand full of viewers. The
show never played again and in the years after Dracula was released, Stoker’s world slowly started to fall
apart. His friend died and the theater he worked with burned down. Still his writing went on but sadly
Stoker never again wrote a book like Dracula and although he wrote other stories and books such as The
Jewel of Seven Stars, The Lady in the Shroud and Lair of The White Worm, nothing would again capture
the reading fancy that Dracula did…..and even that was not what today would be called a blockbuster by
In 1912, Bram Stoker’s health took a downward turn when the author had a stroke that he never really
recovered from. In April 1912, Bram Stoker passed away and although book sales from Dracula were
there, the novel never really made Bram a rich man. Sadly he never saw the heights his vampire Count
would soar to in the later years after his death. He never lived to see his Dracula turn into the new
entertainment of film. He never saw his vampire on the silver screen for the first time in the movie
Nosferatu in 1922 and later in the Universal horror movie classic with actor Bela Lugosi in 1931. Although
the book and the early stage productions that followed, it was the movie biz that gave the vampire his true
release upon the world.
Today, Stoker’s creature and its story has become world known and even though the author didn’t live to
see how he changed the world, one thing is true…..Bram Stokers name just like his vampire Count will live