Born on 8 November 1847 at 15 Marino Crescent, on the north side of Dublin, Stoker was the third of seven children and was bedridden with an unknown illness until he started school at the age of seven. Later he wrote, “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.”
Stoker became interested in the theatre as a student and became the theatre critic for the Dublin Evening Mail, co-owned by the author of Gothic tales Sheridan Le Fanu.
In 1878 he married Florence Balcombe, a celebrated beauty whose former suitor was Oscar Wilde. They moved to London, where Stoker became manager of Henry Irving’s Lyceum Theatre. Through this collaboration, Stoker became involved in London society where he met many notable people including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to whom he was distantly related. He was dedicated to Irving and his memoirs show he idolised him. In London Stoker also met Hall Caine, who became one of his closest friends and to whom he dedicated Dracula.
In the course of Irving’s tours, Stoker travelled the world, although he never visited Eastern Europe, a setting for his most famous novel.