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Stoker was more than just vampires

Q: Did Bram Stoker write any other books besides "Dracula"? It is his birthday this week, and I am a fan of the book "Dracula" but don't know anything else about Stoker. -- From a note left on my desk.

A: Stoker was born Abraham Stoker on Nov. 8, 1847, in Dublin, Ireland, and he did indeed write other novels other than his most famous.

In fact, he had an entire life that was anything but gothic, dark and undead.

He was married to Florence Balcombe for 34 years; a woman whose grace and beauty were celebrated by Oscar Wilde.

As a young man living in London, he wrote theater reviews, which lead to his friendship with the acclaimed actor Henry Irving.

For 27 years, Stoker was the business manager for the Lyceum Theatre of London; Irving was the general manager.

Stoker wrote four novels and two works of non-fiction prior to penning "Dracula" and would go on to publish a total of 12 novels, two short story collections and four works of non-fiction.

Stoker definitely did not invent the genre as there have been many vampire novels that have come from the very long and rich European vampire folklore.

And the novel, though received very well by critics, was not an immediate best-seller.

Through literary prowess, striking geographical references and historical intrigue, the novel struck a long-lasting chord and pushed the title character to the forefront of vampire popular culture.

The word "Dracula" has become wholesale representative of vampires just like Kleenex is for facial tissues and Jell-O is for gelatinous dessert foods.

Eric Norris is the director at the Hays Public Library. "Ask Eric" questions can be mailed to 1205 Main, Hays, KS, 67601, submitted through www.hayspublib.org at the "Ask Eric" link or emailed to enorris@hayspublib.org.