Bram Stoker's Dracula
Presentation copy
STOKER, Bram (1847-1912). Dracula. Westminster: Archibald Constable and Company, 1897.

First edition, first issue, without the advertisements at end. Presentation copy in superb condition, inscribed by the author to eminent Scottish scientist Sir James Dewar, and with an autograph letter.

Sir James Dewar (1842-1923), whose long career focused on research into the liquefaction of gases and temperatures approaching absolute zero, was elected Fullerian professor of chemistry at the Royal Institution of Great Britain in 1877. It was at the Royal Institution that he "implemented the extensive research programme into cryogenics for which he is best known … As an experimenter he was unsurpassed, as daring and imaginative in conception as he was brilliant and sure in execution" (ODNB). It appears likely that Stoker knew Dewar through the latter’s friendship with Henry Irving, the man who inspired the character of Count Dracula and with whom Stoker worked at the Lyceum Theatre.

The archetypal vampire tale, Stoker's Dracula continues to assert a profound hold on the popular imagination. As a character, Count Dracula retains an enduring power over readers, his nocturnal savageries being both deeply repellent and yet strangely compelling. Shortly after its publication, Charlotte Stoker wrote to her son, the author: "My dear, it is splendid, a thousand miles beyond anything you have written before, and I feel certain will place you very high in the writers of the day—the story and style being deeply sensational, exciting and interesting ... No book since Mrs. Shelley's 'Frankenstein' or indeed any other at all has come near yours in originality, or terror." This maternal praise was echoed by a devoted Victorian readership but not always by contemporary critics, some of whom objected to the novel's imaginative structure. Arthur Conan Doyle, however, wrote that Dracula was "the very best story of diablerie which I have read for many years. It is really wonderful how with so much exciting interest over so long a book there is never an anti-climax." Stoker died on 20 April 1912, not living long enough to see Dracula's immense cultural impact, and its many permutations in print and on the screen.

Octavo. Half-title. Original yellow cloth stamped in red, edges untrimmed (spine a trifle dulled, few spots to fore-edge, overall very fine); custom chemise and calf-backed slipcase. Provenance: Sir James Dewar, 1842-1923, Scottish chemist and physicist (presentation inscription from the author) – Richard Manney (his sale, Sotheby’s New York, 11 October 1991, lot 292).

[Housed with]: Autograph letter signed ("Bram Stoker") to Hall Caine ("My dear Hommy-Beg"), Glasgow, n.d. [?22-26 June 1896]. Two pages, octavo, on paper with printed heading of Sir Henry Irving’s 1896 provincial tour (rather crumpled). To "Hommy-Beg," the dedicatee of Dracula. Writing from Glasgow, Stoker proposes to take out life insurance for £700, assigned to Hall Caine, in exchange for a loan. Although "astonishingly popular and famous" (ODNB) during his lifetime, the novelist Hall Caine is now remembered chiefly as the dedicatee of Dracula, inscribed to him under the Manx Gaelic diminutive Stoker uses here, "Hommy-Beg."

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Heather Weintraub
Heather Weintraub Specialist, Books, Manuscripts, & Archives

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