Monday, October 31, 2011

DISCOVERED: Bram Stoker's Private Diary

“Despair has its own calms.”  -Bram Stoker.

“I have learned not to think little of any one's belief, no matter how strange it may be. I have tried to keep an open mind, and it is not the ordinary things of life that could close it, but the strange things, the extraordinary things, the things that make one doubt if they be mad or sane.” - Bram Stoker.

THE private journal of Dracula creator Bram Stoker has been found after  lying undiscovered on his great-grandson's bookshelf in England, it emerged today. Stoker recorded his thoughts about his legendary character and other stories in the thin, unmarked book.

It had been passed down by his ancestors for more than a century before arriving in Noel Dobbs' home on the Isle of Wight.

Providing a snapshot of Dublin between 1871 and 1881, as well as a window on the life of the very private Stoker, the notebook was found by the author's great-grandson, Noel Dobbs. Dobbs sent photographs of pages from the book to his relative, Stoker's great-grandnephew Dacre Stoker  author of the recent novel Dracula: The Un-Dead, and Stoker has worked to decipher his ancestor's "terrible" handwriting with Dr Elizabeth Miller of the Transylvanian Society of Dracula. The Lost Journal, complete with annotations, is now lined up for publication by Robson Press next year, marking the centenary of Bram Stoker's death in 1912.

The 100-odd-page notebook covers the period when Stoker was a student at Trinity College in Dublin and a clerk at Dublin Castle, written in a clear precursor to the journalistic style of Dracula and containing the author's earliest attempts at poetry and prose. "There are some definite parallels between this notebook and Jonathan Harker's journal, and certain entries from Bram's notebook actually resurfaced twentysomething years later in Dracula.  Because he wrote little about himself, Dracula fans and Stoker scholars have largely been free to speculate about Bram. Rumours and myths have taken on a life of their own. Now, with this chapter of Bram's life revealed, the rest of his life will be more accurately interpreted," said Dacre Stoker.

'It's kind of incredible, but Noel was rather blasé about it,' said Dacre. 'When I saw it, I was amazed. 'I thought, 'The Holy Grail! We've found it!'

 'There is so little written by Bram about Bram. Family, scholars and hard-core fans -- so many people have wanted to know what made the man who wrote 'Dracula' tick. And here we had a major set of clues.'

His book, 'The Lost Journal,' will be published next March to mark 100 years since the author died in April 1912.

Dacre Stoker has worked with Bram Stoker scholars to annotate the journal which the author began in 1871 when he was in his early 20s. It would be more than a decade before the author learned about the primary inspiration for his Count Dracula, 'Vlad the Impaler.'

The last entry of Stoker's journal in 1881 hints at a major character he would use in Dracula, a man who  was driven to eat living things including flies.

Another entry reads "A man builds up a shadow on a wall bit by bit by adding to substance. Suddenly the shadow becomes alive", and would later become the kernel for Stoker's story The Shadow Builder. A note reading "'Palace of Fairy Queen. Child goes to sleep & palace grows – sky changes into blue silk curtains" foreshadows Stoker's frequent use of dreaming children in stories including Lies and Lilies and The Wondrous Child.

Stoker died before his Count Dracula became internationally famous when Bela Lugosi played him as a suave nobleman in the 1930s film. But in true Bram Stoker style, he left behind one more mystery. In one of his books, the author alludes to another diary which is not the notes found in the Isle of Wight.

'There's something else out there - that missing piece, this mystery diary,' Stoker said. 'I'm dying to know where it is.'”

( "It's the Holy Grail': Private journal of Dracula's creator Bram Stoker found on relative's bookshelf on the Isle of Wight", 10/31/2011. Image: Book cover for Bram Stoker's Dracula, Penguin Classics.).