Portrait of Bram Stoker
Dates:1847 - 1912
Address: 18 St Leonard’s Terrace, SW3
Dates at address:1896 - 1906
Born in Dublin Stoker was bedridden for the first seven years of his life, listening to stories about storms, shipwrecks, rescues and the occult. Recovering he became an excellent student and champion athlete at Trinity College, Dublin and was called to the Bar in 1890. He married Florence Balcombe in 1878, winning her away from Oscar Wilde. They had a son.
In Dublin Stoker worked as a civil servant and volunteer drama critic for the Evening Mail. Meeting Henry Irving after reviewing his Hamlet the two became friends and Irving hired Stoker as business manager for the Lyceum in 1878. Some of Stoker’s more radical ideas included numbering the seats, pre-booking and advertising whole seasons. More famous today for his writings, his first published novel was the murder story The Primrose Path in 1875. Between then and the publishing of his seminal Dracula in 1897 Stoker wrote many other books. Although including fairy tales and adventure-romances most involved the occult and macabre, or “horrible stories” as Florence described them.
Stoker haunted various houses in Chelsea during his stay here. Starting in Cheyne Walk he moved to Durham Place, which became St Leonard’s Terrace, before moving to Pimlico. St Leonard’s Terrace may be famous as the birthplace of Dracula but Cheyne Walk was the scene of a genuine horror story. While walking along the Embankment Stoker rescued a drowning man. Rushing back to his house Stoker laid the man out on the kitchen table where he promptly died, to Florence’s horror.
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