April 20, 2012 marked the 100th anniversary of the death of Bram Stoker. Numerous events were held to mark this special date. In this and subsequent entries, I will focus on events in which I personally participated, mentioning at the end some others that I have been made aware of. Feel free to add comments or questions.
The two weeks I spent in the U.K. to attend Stoker events were bookended by two academic gatherings: a Centenary Conference at Hull and Whitby (April 12-14), and a Stoker Symposium at Keats House in Hampstead (April 20-21).
Gathering of speakers in Hull
[Back: Dacre Stoker, Clive Bloom. Front: Elizabeth Miller, Sir Christopher Frayling, Robin MacCaw (Bram's great-grandson)]
The Hull conference was a very large affair, with 3 – sometimes even 4 – sessions of papers running on parallel tracks. This, as academics know, can be a frustrating experience as one is forced to choose from several very promising papers. I did manage to attend quite a few, and especially enjoyed “The Legacy of Ingrid Pitt” (Victoria Amador), “Illustrating Dracula: The Hunt for the Count’s Moustache” (Bee Hughes), “Eiko Ishioka and the Orientalization of Bram Stoker’s Dracula” (Kathryn Bernal), “Dracula and Late-Victorian Religion” (Carol Herringer), and “That Smileless Laugh of Him: Humour and the Malice of Delay in Dracula” (Matthew VanWinkle). All of these (and many more, from what I heard of other papers) are publishable.
Dacre Stoker and I do our joint presentation at conference
Dacre and I had been invited to this conference as keynote speakers to give a one-hour presentation entitled “Bram Stoker’s Dublin Journal.” This was the first time we appeared together for this purpose. (I had given a slide presentation on the Journal in March at the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts in Florida in March.)
Other keynote speakers included Sir Christopher Frayling, Prof Luke Gibbons, and Dr Joann Fletcher.
Held at the main campus of the University of Hull and superbly organized by Catherine Wynne, the conference attracted about 80 participants from several countries, including both well-known and up-and-coming names in the field of Stoker/Dracula studies. Papers were read by Carol Senf, Marie Mulvey-Roberts, Catherine Spooner, Stacey Abbott, Norbert Besch, Curt Herr, Marius Crisan, Mark De Cicco, and many others.
On the second day the conference moved to Whitby, about 90 minutes away.
At Whitby. [This photo was taken during a previous visit to Whitby four years ago]
Whitby, of course, is central to the Dracula story as it was in Whitby that Stoker found the name “Dracula”. While visiting the town in the summer of 1890, he took close to 20 pages of notes for the novel that would be Dracula. Sir Chrstopher Frayling delivered his keynote lecture in Whitby in the form of a screening of his documentary “Nightmare: The Birth of Horror.” This was followed by a presentation on Stoker’s Whitby by David Pybus of the Whitby Library & Philosophical Society. Then we paid a visit to the Whitby Museum which had sent up a special display for us relating to Stoker’s Whitby connections. Here I learned a couple of interesting things. First there was in Stoker’s time no such place as the Whitby Public Library – but rather two private subscription libraries. It was one of these (or maybe both) that Stoker visited during the summer of 1890. And, more significantly, patrons could not browse the shelves: they had to consult a catalog and ask for a book to be brought to them. This has implications for how/why Stoker happened to select the book by Wilkinson where he found the name Dracula. Will have to give that some extra thought!
NEXT ENTRY: Keats House, Hampstead