The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Abraham Stoker, 1847-1912

Nationality: Irish
Date of Birth: 1847.11.08
Place of Birth: Dublin
Date of Death: 1912.04.20
Place of Death:


Abraham ('Bram') Stoker was a civil servant, theatre manager, barrister and writer. He was the second son of Abraham Stoker, a clerk in Dublin Castle, and his wife Charlotte, the daughter of Lieutenant Thomas Thornley of the 43rd Regiment. He had four brothers and two daughters. In 1878 he married Frances (Florence) Anne Lemon (17 July 1858 - 25 May 1937), the daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel James Balcombe, an army officer; she had previously been engaged to Oscar Wilde. They had one son.


Stoker was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and then entered the Civil Service. His first book was The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland (1879). Inspired by Henry Irving, he began to write theatre reviews for the Dublin Mail and in 1878 Irving asked him to become his manager at the Lyceum Theatre in London. He was called to the bar in 1890, but never became a practising lawyer. In 1897 he published his most famous novel Dracula. In 1898 his theatrical career collapsed and he concentrated on writing, publishing The Mystery of the Sea (1902), The Jewel of Seven Stars (1903), The Man (1905), Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving, 2 volumes (1906); Lady Athlyne (1908), Snowbound (1908), The Lady of the Shroud (1909), Famous Imposters (1910) and The Lair of the White Worm (1911). He died of Bright's disease and syphilis in 1912.

Stoker's appearance was striking, being over six feet tall and with a red beard. The artist Goldsborough Anderson used him as a model for William II in a panel for the Royal Exchange. Like JW, Stoker was a member of The Arts Club from 1886 to 1896. In the early 1880s JW, who was also a member of The Arts Club, was in contact with Stoker concerning the borrowing of a steward from the Lyceum for an exhibition, possibly Mr Whistler's Etchings, held at the Fine Art Society in 1883. For the exhibition preview, JW engaged a liveried door attendant and assistants who handed out paper and silk butterflies to his guests (#11260). In the early 1880s when E. W. Godwin designed a block of studio flats at 46 Tite Street, both Stoker and JW were among prospective clients (#11788). According to Stoker, JW approached him for assistance in taking his Ten O' Clock Lecture to America: 'Bram, I wish I could get some one to take me up and attend to my business for me - I can't do it myself; and I really think it would be worth a good man's while - some man like yourself.'


Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908; Stoker, Bram, Sir Henry Irving, 2 vols, London, 1906; Ludlam, Harry, A Biography of Dracula: the Life Story of Bram Stoker, 1962; Farson, Daniel, The Man Who Wrote Dracula: A Biography of Bram Stoker, 1975; Le May, G. H. L., 'Bram Stoker', Dictionary of National Biography Online, Oxford, 1993; Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford, on-line edition (accessed 2004).