Sunday, November 30, 2014

20 Things You Should Know About Bram Stoker's Wife

Florence Stoker (2 November 1880)
Who was Bram Stoker's wife? Why should we care about her? Stoker wrote Dracula, surely that makes him the interesting one. Nope.
  1. Mrs. Stoker's friends called her Florrie.
  2. Florrie's middle names were: Anne Lemon. How can we not love someone named for such a delightful citrus fruit?
  3. Florrie was born Florence Anne Lemon Balcombe, the daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel James Balcombe of 1 Marino Crescent, Clontarf, and wife Phillippa Anne Marshall.
  4. Florrie's family were poor Irish Protestants.
    Sketch of Florrie
    by Oscar Wilde
  5. Florrie was Oscar Wilde's first love, and he was hers. She never really got over him.
  6. Florrie had to break up with Wilde when she got engaged to Stoker.
  7. Joseph Pearce writes that: "In Wilde's art, Florence Balcombe's absence had proved far more potent than her presence. He was fully aware of the paradox and learned the lesson it taught. Thereafter, the paradox of pain and the creativity of sorrow would permeate his life and his work."
  8. Florrie got married in Dublin in 1878.
  9. One of the things that Stoker and Henry Irving first bonded over was the fact they had both married women named "Florence."
  10. Their only child was born in 1879.
  11. After the birth of their son, Florrie's marriage to Stoker was platonic.
  12. To Bernard Partridge George du Maurier once said that the three most beautiful women he had seen were Mrs. Stillman, Mrs. John Hare, and Mrs. Bram Stoker.
  13. Florrie wanted to be an actress.
  14. There's evidence that Florrie made a stage debut 3 January 1881 because of a letter that Oscar wrote to Ellen Terry: "I send you some flowers - two crowns. Will you accept one of them, whichever you think will suit you best. The other - don't think me treacherous, Nellie - but the other please give to Florrie from yourself. I should like to think that she was wearing something of mine the first night she comes on the stage, that anything of mine should touch her. Of course if you think - but you won't think she will suspect? How could she? She thinks I never loved her, thinks I forget. My God how could I!"
  15. That year, the census recorded Florrie's occupation as an "artist." 
  16. Sadly, there's no evidence (that I can find) that Florrie continued acting, nor of any other art that she might have created.
  17. Florrie did, however, keep a painting Wilde made for her for the rest of her life, and always referred to him as "Poor O."
  18. The accomplishment history remembers her for was her attempt to destroy every copy of the film Nosferatu (1922) because it violate her copyright on the Dracula franchise.
  19. Florrie outlived her husband by 25 years, and wanted her ashes mixed with those of her husband. They weren't.
  20. When Florrie's son died in 1961, his ashes were added to his father's urn. Creepy?
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  1. Very interesting. I wonder if any of Oscar Wilde's artwork has been curated or collected? That would be a rather interesting collection. I didn't realize he was able to draw or paint until you posted the portrait of Florrie.

    1. Florrie had a water colour painting of his too. I know it has been preserved, but I have no information about where. I think he was better at painting with words than pictures, but I do think his pictures are pretty sweet.

  2. How interesting. I'm curious, how do you know their marriage was platonic after the birth of Noel?

    1. Good question! There's some debate about that, but the view that their marriage was platonic after the birth of their son originates with their granddaughter, and has been repeated by biographers since.

      Because I am writing a novel with a particular plot, in which they are characters, I favour that view.

  3. "Bad" artists are better at getting a likeness than "good" artists.

    1. That drawing always makes me remember sketching my crushes from memory when I was a teenager. :)

  4. I'm doing a project for final exams on Florence and I was wondering where you got your information on her relationship with Oscar Wilde? we have to cite sources.

  5. Um. You may want to do a little fact checking, or at least cite your sources. I'm writing a piece on Stoker at the moment and very little correlates with my research. For instance, space had been left in the urn for her ashes but she instead asked for them to be 'dispersed on the Garden of Rest outside the Ernest George Columbarium at Golders Green.' (Belford 330)

  6. There are many events that need investigation . Florence never had syphilis but Bram did... STD is a way of tracking history. There is enough said to track this in depth.

  7. Oscar Wilde admitted to homosexuality so more research in this and Florence