Stoker, the stage and the London Library
By MICHAEL CAINES
"To be reviewed in a future issue of the TLS." That's what I promised on this blog back in November, at the end of a piece about Bram Stoker, Wilkie Collins and the theatre. Now Tracy C. Davis's fascinating piece on the book I was talking about, Bram Stoker and the Stage, is not only in the paper but on the TLS website, as Bram Stoker before Dracula. It's quite a story.
That's Stoker's sometime boss Henry Irving depicted in the illustration above (from The Critic, 1899, by Frank Chesworth, who also produced striking caricatures of other theatrical luminaries, such as Sir Arthur Sullivan and Charles Wyndham). It has been said that the "lanky, weirdly locomoting, charismatic Irving" provided Stoker, his business manager, with an obvious source of inspiration for his vampire. But does it follow that Irving himself exercised a "vampire-like" power over Stoker in real life, and "drained his creative vitality"?
The editor of Bram Stoker and the Stage isn't so sure. And Tracy Davis suggests that there are more basic questions to be answered about Stoker that are overlooked by critics scouring the biographical vaults for signs of vampiric life (if that's not a contradiction in terms).
As a postscript, however, and, I think, a further example of Professor Davis's point: between my promise of a review and the review itself, came this piece from the London Library's blog, which naturally I've only just got round to reading. There are even a few things to be learned from old library membership forms, it turns out.