Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Dracula's Whitby (Part Two)

Yesterday, I started sharing the pics I've been finding of Whitby in the 1890s, but ran out of time because there are so many great images out there. I'm looking at these pictures to get some sense of where Bram Stoker was, when he was researching and writing Dracula. Now, I want to pick up where I left off, but, as you know, this is a blog about my research tangents.

While searching for photos for the Whitby portion of my story, I discovered Frank Sutcliffe, a professional Whitby photographer, who was contemporary to Stoker. Sutcliffe might have dined with Stoker in Whitby, as they were both friends of John Ruskin.

I've chosen photos from Sutcliffe's collection to represent the time period that Stoker would have been visiting Whitby and also just because I think they are neat. Hope you enjoy!

"Stern Realities" 1890.
"Piggy Back" 1890s
Unknown (found by Tanya)
A Whitby Street
November (1890)
Robin Hood's Bay (1900)
Boat in Harbour (1890)
Through The Station Doorway
These last two are unknown.
Now that my head is full of wonderful new setting for Stoker in Whitby in the 1890s, I have some other writing to do!

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Dracula's Whitby (Part One)

A pictorial tour of Whitby in the 1890s.
Right over the town is the ruin of Whitby Abbey, which was sacked by the Danes, and which is the scene of part of "Marmion," where the girl was built up in the wall. It is a most noble ruin, of immense size, and full of beautiful and romantic bits; there is a legend that a white lady is seen in one of the windows. - Dracula
Modern-day tourists to the town of Whitby frequently ask where they might find Dracula’s grave. There is no grave because there was no Dracula, but Whitby is one of the locations where Bram Stoker dreamed him up. Stoker was inspired by the town’s history, its red rooftops, and its ghostly Abbey.

Dracula is a source of tourism for Whitby today. Even the lawyer’s address, Number 7 The Crescent, has been turned into a bed and breakfast. Today, I’ve been hunting for images of what Whitby was like when Stoker stayed there in the 1890s. This is what I've found so far:

This elegant Victorian lady is walking past down Pier Road in Whitby away from the sea and the building she as just passed that you can see the corner of is the well know Magpie cafe today (1888).
This spa would have interested Florence Stoker.
I don't know the date, but am guessing 1880s-1900s.
St Michael's Church - Built 1847, demolished 1977.
Gibsons shop. Church street.
Victorian children captured on camera near the Scarborough and Whitby Breweries branch in Pickering.
Circa 1900 boy and dog in Whitby.
The Stokers likely brought their son to Whitby too.
1890s view of the East Cliff.
I found the above image on an interesting site that seeks to find "the authentic holiday lodgings of Mina and Lucy." I was also able to find another image of the spa that I found (above).

The Spa Pavilion just below North Terrace, as Mina and Lucy would have known it.
I seem to run out of space for pictures in this post and should really be writing my book. Be sure to check out my follow-up post for more of the pictures I found of Bram Stoker's Whitby.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Dr. Norman Shanks Kerr and the Barrel Fever

First identified in 1813, delirium tremens is a severe form of alcohol withdrawal, also called “the DTs,” “the horrors,” “the bottleache,” “quart mania,” “ork orks,” “gallon distemper,” “barrel fever,” or “the shakes.” Symptoms include: fever, sweating, tremors, nightmares, disorientation, confusion, hallucinations, seizures, hypertension, and it gets worse at night. Medical professionals now recognize delirium tremens as medical emergency, which if left untreated will lead to death. The only cure for delirium tremens is total and lifelong abstinence from alcohol, though valium may be prescribed to ease the patient through the withdrawal process. This cure was not so clear in the 19th century, even 88 years after its discovery.

Victorian doctors naturally focused on easing the startling symptoms of the withdrawal by prescribing hard drugs or by trying to wean the patient off of alcohol. By mid-century, a minority of doctors were, however, beginning to get the right idea. Among them, we find Dr. Norman Shanks Kerr, a teetotaler throughout his adult life, he gained so much acclaim for his work that he became known the world over. The article, which I’ve transcribed below, was published in Montreal in 1899 in his memory and in honour of his work. Although he was based in London, anyone working in temperance and medicine knew Dr. Kerr’s work.

Written as a kind of eulogy, the article below emphasizes Dr. Kerr’s triumphs and achievements, but he was fighting a difficult uphill battle all the way to achieve anything. Delerium tremens wasn’t his only cause, but it is the most serious form of alcohol withdrawal and the result of years of regular heavy drinking. It is difficult to convince hardened alcoholics suffering from delirium tremens today to give up drinking, even with the support of such organizations as Alcoholics Anonymous. Dr. Kerr was trying to convince them during a time when mothers could buy morphine over-the-counter for their teething babies.

Nonetheless, great strides were made, as is illustrated in the passage from Richard Eddy’s Alcohol in History (1877).

I imagine Dr. Kerr as an intelligent, but eccentric man, who lived for his work and the Northern Tribune does little to dispel that idea.
The Late Dr. Norman Kerr.
The noted temperance advocate

We give a portrait of Dr. Norman Kerr, who died at Hastings on Tuesday night, May 30 1889. Having been for some time in failing health, he removed to Hastings at the beginning of this year, but in the middle of April he paid a visit to London to preside over a meeting and caught a chill, from which he never recovered. There is hardly another instance of a medical man devoting so many years of persistent study to the subject of alcoholism, such as Dr. Kerr presented. The spread of temperance was his life-work, and he brought to the question all the knowledge which he had accumulated in many years of study. His pen was always busy, and he was a continual contributor to various medical and other journals. He also published over twenty books relating to inebriety.

Dr. Norman Kerr was born in Glasgow in 1834. He graduated in Glasgow University in 1861, and settled in London in 1874, where he became eminent as a physician. As a medical man he refused to prescribe intoxicating drinks, in which practice he for many years stood almost alone. Before going to an infectious case he always took the precaution of having a good meal, believing that this would fortify him against the disease. He was fond of relating that on one occasion he was hastily summoned to a badly infectious case, long after having taken food. He, however, managed to provide himself with a large basin of turtle soup, and, thus, fortified, escaped infection.


As a staunch and able advocate of temperance Dr. Kerr is best known. When scarcely out of his teens he took part in the inaugural meeting of the United Kingdom Alliance at Manchester in 1853. Thenceforward he lectured on temperance and diet reform in every part of the country, but though he favoured legislative interference with the traffic, he was one of the first to realize and act upon the principle that social reform should proceed side by side with legal intervention. To this end he, in 1855, proposed and organized the Glasgow City Hall Saturday Evening Concerts, and later he became a director of the Coffee Tavern Company, which had the same objects in view.

In 1880 he was presented with a carriage, etc., in recognition of his public services, the Earl of Shaftesbury being one of the moving spirits in the presentation. Dr. Norman Kerr long advocated the treatment of inebriates in the manner lately prescribed in the Inebriates Act. He held that inebriety was a disease, not a crim, and that it should be treated accordingly. For instance, he much approved of the homes established in America, where drunkards were treated by specialists. The result of such treatment was, Dr. Kerr contended, that a third of the patients were permanently cured. His remedy in short, was absolute and unconditional abstinence from all intoxicants under all circumstances, even at the Lord’s Supper. Under the new Inebriates Act a great step forward has been taken toward giving effect to these views, but, as everybody knows, difficulty has arisen regarding the provision of homes to which ‘sufferers’ may be sent.


Thirty or forty years ago a ‘temperance’ doctor was a great rarity, and all could have been counted on the fingers of one hand. Today the British Medical Temperance Association numbers its members not by ones but by hundreds, and one of the leading features of the annual Medical Congress is the great temperance meeting of doctors which invariably takes place during the sittings of that assembly. Alcohol is not ordered as a medicine one twentieth part so much as it was twenty years ago.

Dr. Norman Kerr told many stories of doctors who have ordered strong drink being placed in awkward positions. One of these anecdotes told by the eminent physician is to the following effect: A man who was taken very ill sent for his doctor. ‘Ah!’ said the latter on his arrival, ‘you’re in a bad way. Nothing will put you round but brandy.’ ‘But I’m a teetotaler, doctor,’ urged the patient. ‘That does not matter. You must not risk your life for a silly fad,’ replied the doctor. ‘Well, I’m sorry, but I think I had better call another doctor, and perhaps he’ll prescribe something else.’ The medical man was cornered, and then blurted out ‘Well, it’s like this. My patients generally like the medicine I prescribed for you and it is less trouble and saves my drugs, I always advise it. But as you won’t have it, I’ll send you a bottle of medicine in half an hour that will do you more good than all the brandy in the country.’

Dr. Kerr was president of the Society for the Study of Inebriety, and chairman of the Inebriates’ Legislative Committee of the British Medical Association for the Cure of Inebriates. He was in continual correspondence with various authorities on the the question all over the world, and was honorary member of the American association formed for the curing of inebriates. In politics he was a Liberal, but not a keen partisan. He was married in 1871 (by the Hon. and Rev. F.E.C. Byng, now Lord Stafford) to Eleanor Georgina, daughter of Mr. Edward Gibson and he leaves a son and several daughters. - ‘Christian Herald.’
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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Immoral Essays by Bram Stoker

I've been slowly reading my way through The Lost Journal of Bram Stoker: The Dublin Years, when I started laughing. One entry, written (I guess) sometime in 1877, reveals a playful imagination in young Stoker, which reminded me of Oscar Wilde. The notes, however, say that "Stoker appears to be imitating Leitch Ritchie, who in Friendship's Offering (1844), plays with a similar set of juxtaposed virtues and vices."

The entry is a simple list of essay titles that Stoker refers back to throughout his journal. They are as follows:

'Immoral Essays'
I. A Defence of Hypocrisy  
II. A Plea for Cannibalism 
III. The Pleasure and Profit of being in debt 
IV. A Word for Liars 
V. The Advantage of Gluttony 
VI. Envy Calmly Considered 
VII. The Virtue of Revenge 
VIII. The Vice of Cleanliness
I really do wish he got around to writing some of these essays. If they inspire any of my readers, please feel free to share your immoral essays here!

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Sherlock vs Creationism

While procrastinating on actually writing my book, I've been watching documentaries that trace the origins of forensic science to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Joseph Bell. I also watched the Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate, which lead me to the conclusion that creationists must be opposed to forensic science.

I have to come at this from two directions, so I will begin with the one most closely related to the subject of my blog.

The documentaries: Sherlock Holmes: the True Story demonstrates the ways in which Dr. Bell (the man who inspired Sherlock's character) was, in real life, the first forensic scientist - and actually used his skills to help police solve crimes! And Sherlock: the First CSI shows us that forensic scientists, since Dr. Bell, have been inspired by the books! If you know who Sherlock Holmes is or what forensic science is, you probably have some idea about how science can help us prove a person is guilty of a crime - even when they swear they are innocent!

During the debate, Ham uses the term 'witness' an awful lot and treats the Bible as a witness's statement. "We weren't there to see what happened, so we could be wrong," says Ham repeatedly. He also repeatedly uses the term 'historical science' to describe Nye's approach. He further differentiates between historical science and observational science.

The term 'historical science' doesn't refer to a documented record of epic moments in science history, though that would be cool. It refers to science that attempts to make claims about the past, like geology and evolutionary biology. These are sciences that try to reconstruct the past. When talking about historical and observational science, Michael Weisberg puts it best:
The main difference is simply that historical sciences like geology and evolutionary biology try to reconstruct the past, while other sciences like chemistry aren't especially concerned with any particular time period.
Modern sciences that concern themselves with a particular time period are integral to our legal system and called forensics. The fictional Sherlock Holmes used chemistry to test blood stains, even when he had witnesses, who claimed to have seen what happened, but were actually guilty of committing the crime. By Ham's logic, the witness provides a more reliable testament to what transpired on a crime scene than the blood on the floor. The creationist case against historical science means they can't accept the results of a DNA test any more than they can the existence of fossils because it is historical science that investigates what happened within a particular time period. Creationists, therefore, must hate Sherlock!

To Tania Lombrozo, who blogged Weisberg's excellent explanation above, the crux of the debate was about the basis of belief, "including the role of evidence versus revelation." Essentially, creationists are suffering from a very Victorian fear, one that Charles Darwin struggled with himself, that God might disappear in a puff of logic.

Here's where I wish that historical science was more about the history of science and less about trying to convince children that science is a bunch of hookum. Last month, I wrote a series of posts on the spirituality of writers in the 1890s. What was so striking about that period in science was how Victorians tried to use science to prove or disprove spiritual claims. Research has been done into the science of having a religious experience and that research has provided an array of explanations for an array of different religious experiences, but, at the time, I found the investigation in to psychics more entertaining (I kinda still do).

The Society for Physical Research was founded in London in 1882, "to approach these varied problems without prejudice or prepossession of any kind, and in the same spirit of exact and unimpassioned enquiry which has enabled science to solve so many problems, once not less obscure nor less hotly debated." W.B. Yeats and Arthur Conan Doyle were both members. The Society disproved one fraud after another.

The Society's track record in the 1890s alone should be enough to strike fear into the heart of anyone promoting spiritual beliefs as science, which might be why creationists recoil from conventional science and are building their own institutions. I'm sorry. I don't mean to suggest that creationist museums will be infiltrated by the Society any time soon. The Society does still exist, but I hadn't heard of them until I started investigating spiritualist frauds and the writers who loved them. Like most Christians of their era, they were searching for ways to reconcile their spiritual beliefs with science.

Really, I'm tired of people talking about science's threat to Christianity. Like Nye, I'm more concerned about the creationist threat to curiousity. Members of the Society believed in all kinds of things (Conan Doyle even believed in fairies), but scientists in the 1890s had curious enough minds to put their beliefs to the test, rather than hiding them so close to their heart that no one could touch them. But, I'm not being fair to creationists, when I glorify the attitudes of my favourite Victorians in the 1890s.

The Fundamentalist Movement was founded in the United States in 1878 and succeeded in getting the teaching of evolution banned from US public schools by the 1920s. Their campaign rode on the shoulders of the anti-German sentiment of the First World War: "The same science that manufactured poisonous gases to suffocate soldiers is preaching that man has a brute ancestry and eliminating the miraculous and the supernatural from the Bible."

Books, like Headquarters Nights (1917) and Science of Power (1918), strove to link Darwinism with Germany. To me these books should be part of the history of conspiracy culture. I like that Conan Doyle wanted Sherlock to take on the Germans too and published His Last Bow in the Strand in September 1917.

Written during the third year of WWI, His Last Bow is set in August 1914 and is crafted as a bit of war propaganda. In it, Sherlock is able to provide German intelligence to the English government before retiring from detective work to keep bees. Ironically, when Dr. Bell retired he also became an etymologist specializing in Bees, but that is another story. His Last Bow finishes with a bit of poetic patriotism.
"There's an east wind coming, Watson." 
"I think not, Holmes. It is very warm." 
"Good old Watson! You are the one fixed point in a changing age. There's an east wind coming all the same, such a wind as never blew on England yet. It will be cold and bitter, Watson, and a good many of us may wither before its blast. But it's God's own wind none the less, and a cleaner, better, stronger land will lie in the sunshine when the storm has cleared."
That sentiment of growing stronger through adversity is what is missing from creationism. To me, a curious and intelligent mind is one that is not afraid to have its opinions and beliefs changed. Sherlock wouldn't have got very far if he began every case with a preconceived notion of who the killer was or just took the witness's word for what had happened. Stories written, like that, wouldn't have captured anyone's interest or inspired chemists to improve blood tests for toxic substances.

The appeal of Sherlock Holmes is that he's kind of like a superhero, but he doesn't have any magical powers, which means that we don't have to be from another planet of bitten by a toxic spider to get as powerful as he is! If we read enough, if we learn enough, if we are observant and conduct a lot of experiments, we might get as smart and powerful as Sherlock!

The danger of not nurturing curious minds is that we won't have as many new advances in forensic science or medicine. Heck, we might even be raising future law enforcement that thinks a witness's statement is more reliable than the smoking gun in her hand.

I'm going to go back to my writing now and will try not to watch so much TV.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

We're All Friends Here!

The more I read about the lives of writers in London in the 1890s, the more interconnected they seem. I feel compelled to sit down one of these days and make a tree of who was friends with who.

I knew that Bram Stoker was friends with Oscar Wilde and that they were both friends with Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes), but I didn't know that Doyle was friends with J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan).

Barrie even asked Doyle to do some editing on one of his plays (if you are a writer today, that probably sounds familiar).

Barrie was pen pals with Robert Louis Stevenson. When he opened the mail box in front of his house, he might have bumped into George Bernard Shaw because they were neighbors.

As his marriage crumbled in the 1900s, Barrie got support and advice from his good friend, H.G. Wells (War of the Worlds). They both knew Thomas Hardy, but not very well.

If anyone knows of a family-tree style map of the friendships between writers in London in the 1890s, let me know? Otherwise, I might have to make one myself!

Note: The date on this post was changed when I made a minor edit to add in the closing line that I now try to leave on all my posts. It was a reminder that I still haven't got around to mapping out the friendships between writers, which is largely because they were too many. Writers in the 1890s were so well connected that they knew each other even if they lived in different cities or countries, like Walt Whitman and Bram Stoker. This sense of community, though it reminds me of the online communities we create today, was, for the most part, due to a stronger inclination toward letter writing and attendance at literary events. However, I still think that a community of writers is a community worth celebrating!

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The World of Dress

"It is merely a question of head," said Percy Anderson to me one day, whilst we were discussing some easy method of solving a problem of fancy dress.
And he continued:
"Indeed, I would say that, broadly speaking, of all costume. The fashion of any period is distinguished primarily by the way its wearer dresses her hair.
"And chooses her sleeves," I suggested, and received his approval. 
Thus begins Mrs Aria and Percy Anderson’s Costume: Fanciful, Historical, and Theatrical (1906). Who better to speak on the subject of costume than the gossip columnist and editor of the World of Dress, Mrs Aria, a.k.a. Eliza Davis.

Because clothes are so fascinating, I’ve gone off on this wonderful tangent into late-Victorian fashion magazines, but I actually came across Davis through a more solemn matter. Over the weekend, a friend complained that Oscar Wilde was anti-Semitic. I’ve encountered mutterings about his terrible attitudes before and do not intend to diminish any of them, but thought I would look for his anti-Semitism. What I found was an anti-Semitic passage in The Picture of Dorian Gray, which certainly makes Dorian seem like a bit of a jerk (but he’s supposed to be. That’s the point of how he lives his life.) but it doesn’t say much about Wilde’s own views. Secondary sources defend Wilde by becoming as horrid and cliche as possible: “But... but... but, Wilde had Jewish friends!” Then, I found Davis.

Davis writes a little about Wilde and his brother in her autobiography, My Sentimental Self (1922).
Both Oscar Wilde and Willie Wilde became frequent visitors, and in a public garden which spread its ill-kept lumpish lawn behind our dwelling we often played tennis together : Willie in a shirt showing some desire to be divorced from the top of his trousers, and Oscar in a high hat with his frock-coat tails flying and his long hair waving in the breeze.
Because Willie is the real focus of my research (not that you can tell by reading my blog), I forgot all about his younger brother and started looking into the life of his fashionable, ambitious, and gossipy friend.

Davis was Julia Frankau and Owen Hall’s sister, making the Davises a very writerly family. Her niece would later recall that Davis knew loads of literary icons and collected their autographs for her and her own siblings. Really, I think, Davis was poised for success as a gossip columnist.
Whilst I was working for Hearth and Home I conceived the notion that I must possess and edit a journal of my own. Thus came into existence the monthly magazine known as The World of Dress, destined of course to show all other editors how fashion papers should be conducted. 
Other than Davis’s own opinions of it, I’m unable to find much information on the World of Dress. As is the case with most woman writers of the period, more is written about her love affairs than her work. On the other hand, gossip is gossip and gossip was Davis’s business.
The World of Dress possessed many excellent features from many excellent sources. Fashion news from Paris, Vienna and New York, interviews about dress with famous people. Sir James Linton, Sydney Grundy, Max Pemberton, Mortimer Menpes, Downey, the royal photographer, and lastly and most amusingly Dan Leno gave opinions. Casually Dan Leno declared that he of all men best understood women's clothes because he had worn them for years; and he knew all about them from the inside; the property to secure more laughter for him than anything else in his mirthful career being an old wired bonnet, tapped on and tied with strings. Every time it came off he just tapped it on a different part of his head, and the audience roared.
As illustrated throughout her autobiography and her work on dress, Davis had a healthy sense of humour. Biographers have noted that she and her sister didn’t take shots at Wilde after his tragedy in 1895, but even defended him against the homophobia of their brother.

Margaret D. Stetz wrote a lovely short essay on the relationship between Wilde and the Davises. In an effort to return to what led me along this tangent in my research, I conclude with her thoughts:
In The Picture of Dorian Gray and elsewhere, Wilde produced caricatured portraits of Jews. But in later years, his Jewish literary contemporaries also drew portraits of him, sometimes favorable and sometimes not. What all these differing representations signify about the ‘true’ social attitudes and personal views of those who populated the cosmopolitan artistic circles of late-Victorian London remains a mystery even deeper than the question of why Basil Hallward’s painting of Dorian aged and changed. 
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Monday, February 10, 2014

Sherlock, the Bully.

It turns out the first actor known to play Sherlock Holmes was also a jealous bully.

Charles Brookfield
Charles Brookfield was an actor, playwright, and journalist with the Saturday Review. Often English satire was all in good fun and could happen between friends, as it did with Arthur Conan Doyle and James Barry. This, however, was not the case when Brookfield wrote a satirical production of Lady Windermere’s Fan.

Brookfield was jealous of Wilde’s success. His parody, Poet and Puppets, was well received at the Comedy Theatre in 1892. Much to his disappointment, Wilde was even amused. Merlin Holland calls Brookfield’s jealousy “envy,” but either way Wilde seemed completely oblivious.

The title, Poet and Puppets, was originally a headline in the Daily Telegraph for a letter Wilde wrote, denying the paper’s earlier assertion that he said actors were puppets to the playwright. Wilde even got to listen to a reading of the parody before it went on stage and only objected to a single line. As H.E. Glover later recalled:
while cigars were burned, the poet puffed, and punctuated each page as it was read with such phrases as ‘Delightful!’ ‘Charming, my old friends!’ (His calling Brookfield ‘old friend’ was touching.) ‘It’s exquisite!’ etc. etc. As he showed us to the door he just gave us this parting shot: ‘I feel, however, that I have been - well - Brookfield, what is the word? - what is the thing you call it in your delightfully epigrammatic Stage English? eh? Oh, yes! - delightfully spoofed.’
I can’t help feeling a huge sense of betrayal on behalf of Wilde, as his brother was a writer for the Daily Telegraph and had written a terrible review of Lady Windermere’s Fan for the paper, and Wilde had no idea about the level of animosity building up in Brookfield. Both Brookfield and Wilde’s own brother would betray him during his infamous trials.

Oscar Wilde is standing. His brother, Willie, sits on right.
By the time Wilde’s trials were getting under way, Wilde had even given Brookfield a small part to play in An Ideal Husband. It was at this time that Brookfield pointed an investigator in the direction of a male prostitute with damning evidence on Wilde.

The list of actors who played Sherlock is long and one from which Brookfield is often omitted, giving the honour of playing the first Sherlock to William Gillette in 1899. Brookfield began playing Sherlock on 25 November 1893 at the Royal Court Theatre in a musical parody called: Under the Clock. Seymour Hicks played Watson. The production lasted for 75 shows, plus one final matinee at a different theatre. According to Amnon Kabatchnik:
Photographs of the era depict Brookfield's Holmes in black tights with a short striped cape over his shoulders, a stubby beard, a thick moustache, and rumpled hair. Seymour's Watson sports a monocle on his right eye, a black high collar around his neck, a pirate's cap on his head, eyebrows that are darkened toward the center and arched to touch the nose, and lips uplifted and highlighted in the middle.
Sadly, I'm unable to locate these photographs and the whole production made Conan Doyle mad.

Brookfield and Hicks used the characters of Holmes and Watson to shoot down other actors, most notably Herbert Beerbohm Tree. The Theatre monthly magazine shot back: “Taunts like these, leveled at Mr. Tree and others, are as cheap as they certainly are nasty. . . .People who want fun instead of a malicious chuckle will find under the clock not exactly to their taste.”

History has found Brookfield not exactly to its taste. Ineffectual bullies don’t keep anyone’s attention for long, though I imagine that Brookfield got along just fine with Wilde’s bullying older brother. Both have left legacies of petty jealousy and pathetic attempts to manipulate and “get back” at the often-oblivious objects of their contempt.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

50 Random Things about Bram Stoker

Bram Stoker
1. Bram Stoker was a good dancer and especially liked to waltz.

2. Stoker was named after his father, a clerk at Dublin castle, who walked miles every day to work for fifty years.
George Stoker

3. Stoker loved libraries. Who doesn’t?

4. Two of Stoker’s brother’s became doctors.

5. His brother, Dr. George Stoker, came to live with him, after travelling through Eastern Europe. Stoker was writing and researching Dracula at the time. George’s stories about his travels and the people he met might have informed the novel.

6. Stoker stole Oscar Wilde’s first girlfriend.

7.Stoker liked to use the word “weird.”

8. At age twenty-two, Stoker fell in love with the poetry of Walt Whitman and wrote Whitman a fan letter that sparked a great literary friendship.

9. Whitman thought of Stoker as a son: “he has always treated me like a best son.”

10. Whitman’s then-controversial and homoerotic Leaves of Grass was Stoker’s first encounter with the poet. He said: “Needless to say that amongst young men the objectionable passages were searched for and more noxious ones expected.”

11. The young Stoker described himself as follows:
“I am six feet two inches high and twelve stone weight naked and used to be forty-one or forty-two inches round the chest. I am ugly but strong and determined and have a large bump over my eyebrows. I have a heavy jaw and a big mouth and thick lips—sensitive nostrils—a snubnose and straight hair. I am equal in temper and cool in disposition and have a large amount of self control and am naturally secretive to the world. I take a delight in letting people I don’t like— people of mean or cruel or sneaking or cowardly disposition—see the worst side of me.”
12. Stoker was often nervous having conversations in groups, but could speak easily one on one.

13. Stoker attributed his love of writing to a long illness he had in early childhood, which prevented him from even being able to walk. He said his earliest memories were of being carried from place to place and “I was naturally thoughtful and the leisure of long illness gave opportunity for many thoughts which were fruitful according to their kind in later years.”
Charlotte Matilda Blake Thornley Stoker

14. Stoker’s mother was a politically active feminist, who told her sickly son gruesome tales.

15. Although Stoker’s writing often comes across as misogynistic, he writes more complex believable female characters than male characters.

16. His female characters usually have names that begin with the letter M, Maggie, Mina, Mimi, Marjory, Margaret...

17. Stoker usually didn’t write more than a page at a time.

18. In spite of this, Stoker wrote most of his stories very quickly, with the exception of Dracula, which was at least seven years in the making.

19. Although there are many theories on who inspired Dracula, Henry Irving is one of my favourite because Stoker asked him to play Dracula in the theatrical version of his novel. Irving, however, refused.

20. Irving liked to make fun of him for his Irish national pride and support for Home Rule.

21. Stoker always took it personally when Irving made fun of him.

22. When Stoker first met Irving, he helped save him from bankruptcy and said: “no artist can properly attend to his own business.”

23. This led to many years of employment and an elevated position in London Society as Irving’s business manager, but Stoker didn’t always feel so secure in this role and faced the competition and ridicule of a young journalist, later employed by Irving as personal secretary, Louis Frederick Austin.

Henry Irving
24. Austin and Stoker didn’t get along and Austin claimed that Stoker was lying when he said he did most of Irving’s speech writing and press statements for him.

25. Stoker spent most of his career working on the business end of theatre and believed strongly in government subsidies for the arts.
“The strain of ceaseless debt must always be the portion of any one who endeavours to uphold serious drama in a country where subsidy is not a custom. In the future, the State or the Municipality may find it a duty to support such effort, on the ground of public good. Otherwise the artist must pay with shortened life the price of his high endeavour.”
26. Although Stoker wound up devoting most of his time to the theatre, he wanted to move to London to be a writer before he ever met Irving.

27. While living in London, Stoker also managed to earn a law degree.

28. Stoker was a night owl. He enjoyed staying up all night and seeing the dawn break.

29. Stoker always took a bath before going to bed.

30. Stoker liked thinking of himself as large.

31. Stoker preferred home-cooking to eating at restaurants.

Irving and Stoker getting into a cab.
32. Stoker felt it showed poor manners to have a second drink when someone else was buying.

33. Stoker thought brandy was good for your health.

34. Stoker’s son claims his dad got the idea for Dracula from a nightmare he had after eating too much dressed crab.

35. Stoker was interested in mesmerism and the occult sciences. He had strong links to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

36. Stoker was fascinated by dreams. He studied dream theory, while writing Dracula.

37. Stoker described watching someone high on opium as moving and speaking, “like a man in a dream.”

38. Stoker’s French wasn’t very good.

39. As much as Stoker liked German folklore, he didn’t speak German.

40. Van Helsing was an amalgamation of at least three different characters Stoker wanted to include in the book, including a German professor.

41.Although Stoker supported Home Rule, as an Irish Nationalist, he was also a monarchist, in support of England as a force for good in the world.

42. Stoker was against any form of violent Irish nationalism.

43. Contrary to popular belief, there is no evidence that Stoker died of syphilis - only that he suffered from a number of Strokes before he died. It’s possible that he was also suffering from depression toward the end of his life.

44. Stoker didn’t like giving up his career with Irving at the Lyceum. He was upset that Irving sold the theatre without consulting him. This might have caused the onset of depression.

45. Even though Stoker’s wife always wanted to and even tried starting a career as an actress, Stoker considered Ellen Terry the best actress of their time. Terry was the female star of the Lyceum. Stoker said:
“Ellen Terry is a great actress, the greatest of her time; and she will have her niche in history. She is loved by every one who ever knew her. Her presence is a charm, her friendship a delight ; her memory will be a national as well as a personal possession.”
46. Stoker’s wife was considered one of the three most beautiful women in England, but their marriage was platonic after the birth of their only child.

Florence Stoker (presumably photoshopped, but still cool)
47. Although the documentary Dracula’s Bram Stoker makes a strong argument that Stoker was gay, there’s no evidence that he ever cheated on his wife with a man or a woman.

48. When Stoker died in 1912, Sotheby’s auctioned off his library. Whitman’s lecture on Lincoln, which he bequeathed to Stoker, sold for $25.

49. His wife tried to put a stop to the film: Nosferatu (1922) because, as Stoker’s widow, she owned the rights to Dracula, hadn’t been consulted and hadn’t been paid any royalties. This resulted in a lengthy court case, which she eventually won, while trying to destroy any and all copies of the film. As much as I like her as a historical figure, I’m glad she didn’t succeed.

50. On his 165th birthday, Stoker was honoured with a Google Doodle.

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