It may be 120 years since Dracula was published, but a descendant of author Bram Stoker says it isn’t hard to see why Whitby inspired it.
Bram’s great-grand nephew Dacre Stoker has spent much of his life researching the work of his relative and is now set to visit Whitby to reveal his findings.
“I have to say it sounds corny but the first time I went to Whitby, it was dark, cold and misty, we went to the Duke of York pub and I immediately got the feeling that Bram would have got, with the slick cobble stone streets and the mist rolling in from the sea,” he said.
“The town is just the perfect setting for a gothic story, but by the daytime it’s beautiful and friendly. It’s deceptive at nighttime and feels like something will jump out around every corner.”
Dacre lives in South Carolina in America and has travelled the world giving lectures on Bram’s inspiration for the Dracula story, revealing hidden secrets that are often unknown among enthusiasts.
He explained: “I meet people at festivals who don’t know that much about Bram and the origins of Dracula. I’m proud of what he has done and want to keep the memory of him alive, telling people about the kind of person he was.”
Dacre’s visit to Whitby is timely, coinciding with Goth Weekend to add to the atmosphere. The talk itself, to be held at the Met Ballroom, will be supplemented by performances from members of Whitby Amateur Dramatic Society, who will come on stage to read sections of Dracula and Bram’s letters. There will also be flash mobs around town publicising the event over the weekend.
Dacre said: “I am very excited about the show being during Goth Weekend. I have never really done this in a big way in the home town of the story.I think it will really enhance the experience of people coming to Goth Weekend. To do it then means a lot to me.”
His extensive research into the life and thinking of Bram is now set to be revealed.
The talk looks at Bram’s young brain and how this came out in his later life and works before exploring how Whitby played a huge part in the birth of the famous tale.
“Whitby plays into this in a very big way,” said Dacre.
“Bram came to Whitby to relax, when he wasn’t burdened by pressure. My research shows he got creative around water – he was inspired by that.
“I have been to Whitby a number of times to do my own research and I feel it’s now time to bring the message to the place where it began.”
Despite holding a key interest in the life and works of his ancestor, Dacre also pursues other interests.
After years spent juggling his day job as a track and field coach he led the Canadian men’s pentathlon team at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
More recently in 2009, along with horror writer Ian Holt, Dacre wrote a sequel to Dracula, titled ‘Dracula: The Un-Dead’. The work led him to another clue in his quest to understand more about his ancestor, when Bram’s great-grandson who lived on the Isle of Wight contacted Dacre to tell him of a journal he had which had sat on his shelf for years.
Despite the handwriting proving difficult to decipher, Dacre worked with the academic Dr Elizabeth Miller to reproduce 300 entries covering his life in Dublin in the 1870s.
The book called: The Lost Journal of Bram Stoker, was published in 2012.
“I think that is my proudest achievement. Bram the man had become overshadowed by Dracula.
“In most of the existing biographies he had been portrayed as poor old Bram whose book had earned mixed reviews and who had died never knowing how successful it was. It wasn’t true. While a few critics hadn’t liked it, most had and I am pretty sure that when he died in 1912 he absolutely knew that with Dracula he had written something truly groundbreaking.”
Investigating the story and thoughts behind the Dracula author has always been about discovering the truth for Dacre and his family.
“At the beginning it was about if the family is able to understand the facts rather than rely on other people writing biographies. I hope the next generation will get the truth.”
Dacre presently balances his research and talks on Dracula with teaching CPR and first aid in the USA, while also coaching real tennis.
The rules and scoring are similar to those of standard tennis, but the scoring system is more complex and the sport is played on a specialist court.
Dacre, boasts coaching the world champion, Camden Riviere.
‘Bram: The Man and the Literature’ will take place at the Met Lounge & Ballroom over Goth Weekend at 1pm and 4pm on April 22 & 23.
Tickets are available from: www.seetickets.com.
As part of the Stoker on Stoker presentation, a club night organised by Kirstin Lavender of Absinthe Promotions will also be held.
It takes place at The Met Lounge & Ballroom from 9pm to 2am.
Tickets are also available from the same website.
A special Bram Stoker beer is being made by Whitby Brewery in conjunction with the event.
Bram Stoker first stayed at Mrs Veazey’s guesthouse at 6 Royal Crescent at the end of July 1890.
He walked about the town, visiting the ancient abbey and St Mary’s Church, where he noted some of the names on the eroding gravestones, including Swales - the name of Dracula’s first victim. While staying here, Stoker heard of a Russian shipwreck called the Dmitry, from Narva, which ran aground on Tate Hill Sands.
This became the Demeter from Varna that carries Dracula to Whitby.