“Even If There Are Monsters In It”: Bram Stoker at Rose Library

By Gaby Hale, Outreach Archivist at Rose Library. 

Still from the Universal Pictures production of Dracula, circa 1931.

 The John Moore Bram Stoker collection at Rose Library is a vast archive dedicated to the life and legacy of Irish author Bram Stoker (1847-1912). Put simply, the Stoker collection is big. It contains nearly 4,000 items and approximately 1,500 books (mostly 19th and early 20th century Stoker texts), correspondence, manuscripts, playbills and other ephemera, photographs and original artwork. Also included are movie posters, vampire-themed board games, and comic books. These items were collected by John Moore, a Dublin collector who spent over 40 years accumulating Stoker materials from Ebay, used bookstores and British and American book dealers. 

Playbill, Dublin, Ireland 1822.

There are many angles in which to interpret the Stoker collection. When viewing the playbills specifically, you can see just how universally known Stoker’s vampiric tale has been over borders and over time. The playbills hail from productions put on all over the western world, including in its native Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany. These items document not only Stoker’s Dracula, but also a general interest in vampires beginning in the early 1800s. The playbills are just one avenue in which to explore Stoker’s works and legacy. 

Despite its short history at Rose, the John Moore Bram Stoker collection has already seen its fair share of use. A small exhibition of materials went on display in late 2021, titled “The Vampire in the Library”. The website created for this event is still a very good resource about the Stoker materials at Rose. 

“Monster in the Library” Class, 2022.

The collection was also at the center of an Emory course in 2022. English professors Sheila Cavanagh and Joonna Trapp formulated a course, titled “Monster in the Library”, that specifically focused on the Stoker collection and its intricacies. Students in the course visited Rose Library several times to view the materials, as well as heard from guest speakers that included leading Dracula and Victorian-era scholars. By the end of the semester, students had crafted different projects based on their experiences with the Stoker collection, including traditional essays, newspaper articles, digital projects, and pieces of fiction.  

Playbill, circa 1930.

As part of the activities surrounding the Bram Stoker collection’s arrival at Rose Library, the former Rare Books Librarian went on the library’s Community Conversations podcast. Beth Shoemaker’s “A Conversation about Bram Stoker’s Dracula” premiered in late 2021 and discusses the cataloging process for the collection, as well as the enduring legacy of Dracula. 

In addition to the Bram Stoker collection purchased from John Moore, Rose Library holds an original manuscript of Bram Stoker’s. This manuscript, Stoker’s The Lady of the Shroud, was donated by Emory alumnus and benefactor Stuart Rose. The Lady of the Shroud is Stoker’s eleventh novel and tells the story of a young man who inherits great wealth from his uncle and gives it to the poor citizens of a small country in the Balkans. The epistolary novel, published in 1909 shortly before the Balkan Wars, also contains themes of vampirism. 

“Lady of the Shroud” manuscript.

Only three years after acquisition, the John Moore Bram Stoker collection’s surface has only just begun to be scratched. We hope to see you in Rose Library’s Reading Room soon! Our collections, including Stoker’s, are open to the public. All that is required is an appointment, which you can make on our website. See you soon! 

“Monster in the Library” Class, 2022.