New Irish Language Broadcast Fund (ILBF) programme Bram Stoker agus Dracula looks at the remarkable life of Dublin born Bram Stoker, and the extent to which his Irish background had an influence on the creation of Dracula, his best known work, and one of the most recognisable characters in world literature. Produced by Dearcán Media/Westway Films, Bram Stoker agus Dracula airs this Wednesday, 2nd November at 9.30pm on TG4.
Bram Stoker himself remains relatively unknown, despite the global reach of Dracula, and despite a growing interest in the author as the centenary of his death approaches in 2012. The programme examines Stoker’s early life in Dublin, including the influence of a mysterious illness that left him unable to walk until he was seven years of age, the significance of his relationship with his formidable Sligo-born mother, and his later college years in Trinity in the mid to late 1860s when he became an outstanding athlete with a national reputation, and was one of the most recognisable characters in Dublin city.
The impact of Stoker’s 25 year association with Sir Henry Irving, one of the best known Victorian actors of the late 19th century, is discussed, in particular, Stoker’s role as his right hand man and confidante in London’s Lyceum Theatre. It was while working as Irving’s theatre manager that Stoker wrote Dracula in 1897, and while Dracula has had an immeasurable influence on global culture, we consider how Stoker’s original depiction of Dracula compares to later adaptations for the theatre and cinema – particularly those involving actors such as Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee.
The programme suggests that there is a considerable Irish influence on the creation of Dracula – including Stoker’s debt to the Irish gothic writing tradition in general, and the writing of Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu in particular. Le Fanu wrote Carmilla, a lesbian themed vampire story in 1872, and it is an acknowledged influence on Dracula. Stoker knew Le Fanu, and other Dublin based writers, through his friendship with the family of Oscar Wilde, and with Oscar’s mother, Jane Wilde. She was instrumental in introducing the most dark and horrific aspects of Irish folklore to a young Bram Stoker, and to stories and characteristics that have many similarities to those presented in Dracula.
Because Dracula and vampires are so ubiquitous in modern culture, there has been much speculation about the origins of the novel, and about the inspiration for the creation of Count Dracula himself. Bram Stoker agus Dracula draws upon expert testimony and primary research to present an authentic view of Bram Stoker – a fiercely intelligent and energetic individual who left an enduring legacy to popular culture. His stand out novel, Dracula, emerges as a complex, composite work formed from aspects of Stoker’s fascinating life that remain relatively under researched, and that deserve a fuller appreciation as we approach the centenary of his death in April 1912.