Dracula’s Guest by Bram Stoker

Bram Stoker

Bram Stoker was an Irish author born in 1847 in Dublin. Stoker is probably the best known horror writer in the world (after Steven King!) and is famous for his fantastically best-selling novel Dracula.

Interestingly, Stoker spent his first years in bed, stricken by an unknown illness , and then he went to school even becoming an athlete there!

After school he got his Bachelor of Arts degree at Trinity College and then got a Master of Arts in 1875.

Stoker’s early career was in the Irish Civil Service but on the side became the theatre critic for the Dublin Evening Mail, which was partly owned by Sheridan le Fanu, another Irish author of ghost stories who we have featured on the Classic Ghost Stories Podcast. Stoker also knew fellow Irish author Oscar Wilde. I guess Dublin was a small town in those days, especially in literary circles.

In 1876, he became acquainted with the forceful English actor, Henry Irving after he wrote a nice review of Irving’s performance (Hint. You never know what good will come from nice reviews!)

Stoker became Irving’s manager and followed him around Britain, which entailed a stay at Whitby (a place I love, and was last at just before Christmas) in 1880. Of course this is where Dracula comes ashore.

Stoker died aged 64 in London.

Though he is most famous for Dracula, Stoker obviously wrote other stories.

This one, Dracula’s guest, which was later published as a short story was intended as the first chapter of the novel Dracula.

In it, we have our nameless hero setting off on a day trip from Munich on Walpurgis Nacht. At the end, we realise that this young man is to be the guest of Dracula who writes from Bistritz in Transylvania.

The hero of this story is obviously Jonathan Harker and Stoker’s publisher obviously saw no need for the first chapter in Munich, so Dracula begins in Bistritz.

The style is very similar to Dracula. The hero does what all heroes in horror stories do, he goes somewhere he shouldn’t. Stoker paints a picture of Central Europe hooching with vampires. Young Mr Harker wanders into the tomb of the vampire countess from Styria (interestingly where Le Fanu (whom Stoker knew) set his story Carmilla — see previous episodes of this podcast. He is pulled out of the tomb by a might grasp, presumably Dracula’s and Dracula presumably blasts the poor vampire countess in her marble tomb with lightning, then sits on him, in the form of a wolf, keeping him warm in the icy cold.

It’s a long way from Transylvania to Munich, but as Stoker reminds us: The Dead Travel Fast.

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