Bram Stoker’s Dracula play script to go on display at British Library
A rare manuscript for a stage production of Dracula written by Bram Stoker himself is to go on display at the British Library.
Although the manuscript for Stoker’s novel is not believed to exist, a script for a stage production the author wrote in 1897 does. It will be on display as part of Terror and Wonder – The Gothic Imagination at the British Library, opening next month.
According to the library, the manuscript offers “fascinating insights into the iconic late- Victorian Gothic tale”, with the script a mix of Stoker’s own handwriting and “printed extracts cut and pasted from the novel”.
Called Dracula or The Undead, the play was written by Stoker to protect the dramatic rights to the book.
A reading of the play was held at the Lyceum Theatre in May, 1897. Stoker was business manager at the theatre at that time, and the role of Mina was performed by Edith Craig, daughter of actor Ellen Terry.
In its description of the manuscript, the library states that, while the play follows the novel’s plot closely, “in order to propel the action forward at a pace suitable for a theatre audience, many of the purely atmospheric elements included in the book have been cut”.
It adds that much of the dialogue, as a result, “reads like plot exposition rather than natural speech”.
According to the library, the script is “stilted” because Stoker was “always more comfortable with evocative descriptions and the portrayal of setting and atmosphere than he was with dramatic dialogue”.
“The play provides a unique glimpse into the working methods of an author who, in Dracula, produced one of the most enduring, inventive and eerily compelling novels of the 19th century,” the library states.