Bram Stoker – The man behind ‘Dracula’

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Abraham Stoker or Bram Stoker as most ‘Dracula’ fans know him, was born the 8th of November 1847. He died in 1912 at the age of 64. He Is an Irish author best known for the novel ‘Dracula.’  He published ‘Dracula’ at the age of 50. Bram spent the early part of his childhood confined to his bed because of a mysterious illness. Looking back on this part of his life Bram mentions that “I was naturally thoughtful, and the leisure of long illness gave opportunity for many thoughts which were fruitful according to their kind in later years.” Bram married Florence Balcome and they had only one child together. This child they named Irving.

Here are some interesting facts about Bram Stoker:

Bram Stoker was the third child of seven.

Even though bed-ridden for most of his childhood he later on excelled in athletics being named University Athlete at Trinity College in Dublin.

Before Florence Balcome married Bram Stoker she actually had another suitor interested in her. His name was Oscar Wilde. Florence chose to be with Bram instead of Oscar. This left Oscar upset enough that he left the country.

Henry Irving and Bram Stoker became close friends. This happened when Bram wrote a review of Hamlet that impressed Henry. A few years later Bram ended up managing Henry Irving’s theatre and career.

‘Dracula’ was inspired by an essay written by Emily Gerard called ‘Transylvania Superstitions.’ Stoker himself had never visited Eastern Europe so he spent a lot of time on research, 7 years in fact.

‘Dracula’ was originally titled ‘The Un-dead’ and ‘Count Dracula’ was originally going to be called ‘Count Wampyr.’

‘Dracula’ wasn’t the first story ever written about vampires. The story ‘Camilla’ written by Sheridan Le Fanu was about a lesbian vampire who stalked young women in 1871. There also happened to be a horror series by James Malcolm Rymer called ‘Varney the Vampire,’ that also came before ‘Dracula.’

Walt Whitman was one of his favourite authors.

Bram’s death didn’t attract much attention in 1912 because it was around the same time as the Titanic hit an iceberg. The Titanic was big news at the time.

There are many different opinions on what the final cause of Bram’s death was. Daniel Farson, Bram Stoker’s grandnephew says in his biography the cause of death was Locomotor Ataxy – know in those days as general paralysis of the insane.

Check out some of Bram Stokers other writing:

The Snakes Pass

Seven Golden Buttons

The Watter’s Mou

The Lair of the White Worm

The Lady of the Shroud

The Jewel of the Seven Stars

The Shoulder of Shasta

The Man (A.K.A The Gates of Life)

Lady Athlyne

The Mystery of the Sea

 

Short Stories:

Under the Sunset (Eight fairy tales for children)

Snowbound: The Record of a Theatrical Touring Party

Dracula’s Guests and Other Weird Stories

 

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George R R Martin: The Master of Character Writing

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George Raymond Richard Martin was born in Bayonne, New Jersey, USA on September 20th 1948. He is a fantasy, sci-fi and horror writer most recognised for his books A Song of Ice and Fire. These books became an epic fantasy series which is also now a television show called Game of Thrones.

George developed an early appreciation for stories and story writing. As a child he would sell his writing to other children of his neighbourhood. George also liked to watch television shows such as The Twilight Zone and Thriller. In his teenage years George had an avid interest in comic books and enjoyed creating new superheroes of his own.  George went on after high school to the Northwestern University, Evanston, Illionois to earn his degree in Journalism. During this time he sold his first professional story to Galaxy. This story was called The Hero.

George met his first wife Gale Burnick while at a science fiction convention. They became divorced in 1979 and had no children. In February 2011, George married his second wife Parris McBride.

Here are some interesting facts about George R R Martin that you may not have known:

George is against fan fiction and believes that it is stealing someone else’s work and that it is not something that aspiring writers should get into.

George likes to collect little medieval figurines.

He has read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and enjoyed it.

George has a deep affection for wolves. He is a supporter of the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary in New Mexico. If you have read some of his books, you will also notice a large presence of wolves throughout them.

George during the Vietnam War was drafted but instead of going to war opted to do alternative service work for two years.

George is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

George has made sure over the years to make a regular appearance at conventions for his fans.

Supposedly George has told the producers of Game of Thrones all the plots and twists coming up in case he dies before he finishes the books.

One of the many reasons George R R Martins books have become so popular is because of his complex characters and in-depth story lines. Unlike many other writers his characters are not black and white, straight good vs. evil. He has managed to let the very essence of humanity shine through in his character descriptions.

Some of George R R Martins writing that you should check out:

Fevre Dream               Windhaven           Dying of the Light                 A Song for Lya 

Hunter’s Run                Sandkings                    Songs the Dead Men Sing          Nightflyers

Tuf Voyaging              Portraits of His Children                The Hedge Knight            

The Sworn Sword          The Mystery Knight                 Quartet                   

 Songs of Stars and Shadows       The Armeggedon Rag                 

A Game of Thrones                  A Clash of Kings              

A Storm of Swords               A Feast for Crows                   A Dance with Dragons           

The Winds of Winter                A Dream of Spring                        Dream Songs

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Richard Matheson – We Will Remember You!

 

Richard Matheson

Richard Burton Matheson passed away June 23 this year (2013) at the age of 87. It is always sad to hear when a great author dies. For those of you who didn’t have the pleasure of knowing much about Richard Matheson here is an article dedicated to him:

Richard Burton Matheson was born in Allendale, New Jersey, USA on February 20th 1926. He was a writer best known in the genres of horror, fantasy and science fiction. His most well-known novels also turned into films would be I Am Legend, The Twilight Zone, The Shrinking Man and Hell House.

Richard was the third child of Norwegian immigrants of Bertolf Matheson and Fanny Matheson. Richard published his first short story in The Brooklyn Eagle when he was 8 years old. After graduating high school in 1943, Richard went on to join the military. He served as an infantry soldier during World War II. Then he studied a Bachelor of Journalism at Missouri University. The first story he made money from was Born of Man and Woman. This was published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Richard then went on in the years after to write many popular novels and screenplays.

“He is one of the most important writers of the 20th Century” – Ray Bradbury

Here are some facts that you may not have known about Richard Matheson:

His novel The Beardless Warriors described some of his experiences from war.

Something that Richard said in an interview about George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead: “… I watched it one night on television and thought to myself, gee, that’s awfully close to I am Legend. He I guess prefers to believe that it’s just derivation, but it seems pretty close to me.”

He married his wife Ruth Ann Woodson in 1952

The story Duel was inspired from an incident in 1963 after Richard was tailgated by a truck. It started when he was playing a game of golf and heard the news of President J.F.Kennedy being assassinated. He stopped playing his game and began to return home. On his journey home a truck tailgated him for a long period of time. Duel was then later adapted for a television-movie by Spielberg. This was the beginning of Spielberg’s career.

He nearly wrote the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. Richard didn’t agree with Hitchcock about the actual birds. Richard believed that the audience shouldn’t see the birds very often. Where as Hitchcock wanted them seen a lot.

Richard came up with the idea for I Am Legend when he was 16 after seeing Dracula. He didn’t write the book until 1952.

Something that Richard said about screen-writing once: “One of my pet peeves is the fact that when people win awards – Academy Awards, notably – if it’s based on a novel, they never mention it. It’s as if the novel never existed. The screenwriter acts as if he’s made it up out of his own head. Sometimes even the director acts as if he’s made it up out of his own head. It’s an ego problem, of course, but it’s tremendously unfair as well.

Richard had four children and three of them have become writers.

Richard Matheson has left a great mark on the world. He will always be remembered.

Some of Richard Matheson’s writing that you should check out:

Novels

I Am Legend                               A Stir of Echoes                     Someone is Bleeding                    Fury on Sunday             7 Steps to Midnight

The Shrinking Man              Hell House                    Hunger and Thirst                              The Gunfight                   What Dreams May Come

The Beardless Warriors               Earthbound                Woman                Shadow on the Sun              Passion Play            Camp Pleasant     

Other Kingdoms                 Generations               Hunted Past Reason               Now You See It…          Abu and the 7 Marvels         

Come Fygures Come Shadowes

 

Short Stories

Born of Man and Woman                   The Test                   Blood Son                 Miss Stardust               Interest                  The Thing      

The Last Day              Deadline                Slaughter House              Wet Straw                Death Ship               The Edge            A Drink of Water

One for the Books            Pattern for Survival               The Holiday Man               The Doll                Getting Together         Shoo Fly

 

Films

Tales of Terror                 The Box               Real Steel               The Devil Rides Out            The Incredible Shrinking Man             House of Usher

The Young Warriors           Master of the World                 The Raven                   The Last Man on Earth               The Pit and the Pendulum

De Sade              Loose Cannons                 Fanatic            The Legend of Hell House             What Dreams May Come          Burn Witch Burn

The Comedy of Terrors       

 

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Roald Dahl: The Orignal Charlie Bucket

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Roald Dahl was born in Cardiff, Wales on the 13th September 1916. He came from a strong Norwegian heritage with both his parents being Norwegian. When he was young both his sister and his father died only weeks apart. Roald Dahl’s mother could have taken him and his two other sisters back to Norway to live with relatives, but decided to keep them in Wales. This was because his father had the belief that British schools were the best in the world.

While attending school in derbyshire, there was a Cadbury chocolate factory not far away that used to provide sweets for the children to sample. There was also another company in the area that was in direct competition with Cadbury. It seems there was some corporate espionage going on. This later on gave Roald Dahl the idea for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Roald Dahl only began writing when he met author C.S. Forrester. His first short story was published in 1942. Roald Dahl thought his career as a writer came about as a ‘fluke.’ Something that a lot of people don’t know about Roald Dahl is that he wrote macabre adult stories before he started writing children’s stories. As Roald Dahl wrote more and more stories they started to become less realistic and more fantasy.

Roald Dahl died the 23rd of November 1990 from a blood disease. He was 74 years of age. It is said that he had a sort of ‘Viking’ funeral where he was buried with some items that he cherished in life. These items were pencils, chocolates and snooker cues.

Here are some interesting facts about Roald Dahl:

Roald Dahl was named after a famous Norwegian explorer.

When Roald Dahl’s son Theo was four months old he was hit by a taxi and therefore afterwards suffered from hydrocephalus also known as ‘water on the brain.’

In 1962 his seven year old daughter Olivia died from measles. He later dedicated the ‘BFG’ to Olivia.

Roald Dahl married actor Patricia Neal in 1953. During birth of their fifth child, she suffered from cerebral aneurysms. Patricia had to re-learn how to walk and talk. Roald Dahl divorced Patricia Neal in 1983. He then became re-married to Felicity Crosland.

Roald Dahl could speak three different languages: Norwegian, English and Swahili.

Roald Dahl was an aircraftman in the Royal Air Force and was also a fighter pilot during World War II.

Roald Dahl didn’t really get into children’s books until he had his own children. In the 1960’s he got a traditional Gypsy wagon and turned it into a playhouse for his children.

He dedicated the book ‘Matilda’ to his grand-daughter Sophie Dahl.

Roald Dahl stated once that if he hadn’t become a writer he would have become a doctor.

In 1965 he was accused of plagiarism. He published a short story in Playboy called ‘The Visitor’ which was a lot like a story from writer Dod Osbourne called ‘Master of the Girl Pat.’

He loved chocolate, but not chocolate cake or chocolate ice-cream.

His favourite way of writing was with pencil on yellow paper.

He had two steel hips and six operations on his spine.

Some of his favourite authors were Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling and Frederick Marryat.

Some of Roald Dahl’s stories that you should consider reading are:

Children’s Fiction:

The Gremlins          Charlie and the Chocolate Factory                  Charlie and the Glass Elevator

The BFG                 The Witches             The Twits               Fantastic Mr Fox          Esio Trot

The Minpins            The Vicar of Nibbleswicke             Danny, the Champion of the World

The Magic Finger              The Enormous Crocodile                George’s Marvellous Medicine

The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me           James and the Giant Peach        Matilda        

Adult Fiction:

Switch Bitch                   Kiss Kiss             Twenty-Nine Kisses from Roald Dahl           Two Fables

Sometime Never: A Fable for Superman             Someone Like You          Skin and Other Stories

My Uncle Oswald             Lamb to the Slaughter             The Best of Roald Dahl        

Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories       Tales of the Unexpected     The Roald Dahl Treasury

More Tales of the Unexpected         Over To You: Ten Stories of Flyers and Flying

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More            The Roald Dahl Omnibus

The Great Automatic Gramatizator                       Roald Dahl Collected Stories

Ah: Sweet Mystery of Life: The Country Stories of Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl was a great author with an even greater imagination. Hopefully he has inspired you to read and write more.

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