Wednesday, 25 January 2012

An Insight into Stoker and Dracula

Of all the memorable characters in the literary canon, there can hardly be a more pervasive and enduring creation than Count Dracula, the eponymous protagonist of that most famous of all gothic horror novels, Dracula.

Indeed, since the book’s publication in 1897, the Count has become one the world’s best-known and oft-copied fictional villains – but despite this, surprisingly little is known about the inspiration behind the character.

The main reason for this lies in the fact that, in stark contrast to his contemporary and love rival Oscar Wilde, Dracula’s enigmatic creator, Bram Stoker, was simply not in the habit of writing about himself or his motivations.

It is a fact that has long-frustrated Stoker’s legion of fans – while there is no mystery surrounding the facts of the author’s life (he was born in 1847 in Dublin and attended the prestigious Trinity College from 1864 to 1870, he embarked on a brief career as a civil servant before leaving Ireland to take up a managerial position at London’s Lyceum Theatre), there is very little information available which allows readers to gain an insight into the mind that conceived of such an important literary creation.

First Edition of 'Dracula'
However, a chance discovery of a long-lost journal by Stoker’s great-grandson, Noel Dobbs, is about to change all that.
Written in the the author's distinctive handwriting, the recently unearthed notebook (which is about to be published by Robson Press to mark the centenary of the author’s death) spans the period from 1871 to 1881 – and, despite ending almost a decade before he began work of Dracula, it gives the reader some tantalizing clues about the origins of Stoker’s most famous work.

For example, the 100-page journal is written in the same style employed by Dracula’s narrator, Jonathan Harker, and one entry recounts the story of a boy who fills a glass bottle so full with flies, there is hardly “enough room for them to die”. This is, according to Dacre Stoker (co-editor of the Robson Press publication, and great-grandnephew of the author), “a precursor to the tendencies of Bram’s Renfield character”.


'The Lost Journal of Bram Stoker – The Dublin Years (1871 – 1881)' is edited by Dacre Stoker and Dr. Elizabeth Miller. It will be published by Robson Press in March.

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