Friday, February 4, 2011

After Dracula: Bram Stoker and family in the 1901 English census

In 1881 and 1891, Bran Stoker, the author of Dracula, lived with his small family in Chelsea, a fashionable neighborhood of London then and now. Last seen in 1891 at 17 St Leonards Terrace, I mentioned in my post about that address that it was the property next door, No. 18 St Leonards Terrace, that has the blue plaque honoring Stoker. In the Google Street View picture, you can see the blue plaque.

Here's the picture again. No. 18 is the white house on the end.

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Dracula was published in 1897. It wasn't Stoker's first literary work. In the 1891 census, he listed himself as having three occupations: Theatrical Manager, Barrister, and Author.

Let's look at the 1901 census.

Address: 18 St Leonards Terrace, Chelsea

Name: Bram Stoker
Age: 53
Estimated birth year: about 1848
Relation: Head
Spouse's name: Florence A L Stoker
Gender: Male
Where born: Ireland
Civil Parish: Chelsea
Ecclesiastical parish: St Luke
County/Island: London
Country: England
Street address: 18 St Leonards Terrace, Chelsea, London
Occupation: Barrister
Condition as to marriage: Married
Employment status: Worker

Registration district: Chelsea
Sub-registration district: Chelsea, South
ED, institution, or vessel: 2
Household schedule number: 382
Household Members:
Name Age
Bram Stoker 53
Florence A L Stoker 39, Wife. Occupation is blank. Born Falmouth, Cornwall.
Irving Noel Thornley Stoker. Son, Single, 21. Accountant's Apprentice. Born Chelsea, London.
Maria Mitchell. Servant, Single, 63. Housekeeper (Domestic). Born Dorking, Surrey.
Louisa Driver. Servant, Single, 37. Parlourmaid. Born London.

Source Citation: Class: RG13; Piece: 77; Folio: 68; Page: 47.
Source Information: 1901 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005.
Original data: Census Returns of England and Wales, 1901. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives, 1901.


The move into No. 18 St Leonards Terrace took place sometime during the past 10 years.

Bram is now listed as a Barrister, with no mention of his former occupations of Theatrical Manager and Author. Was he still doing both of these things? Other records would indicate, yes. In fact, his work as a Barrister appears to have been secondary throughout his life. Biographies stress his work in the theatre, not in the courts of law.

The Stokers' son, Irving Noel Thornley Stoker, is again with the family. (He was absent in 1891). He's training to become an accountant.

Two servants, Maria Mitchell and Louisa Driver, have replaced the two we saw in 1891. We don't know how many there may have been in between.

A big question now is, what impact did the publication of Dracula have on Stoker during his lifetime? Was it the proceeds from the sale of this book that financed the move to this new house? Somehow I suspect not, but that is only from seeing a passing note saying the book was not an immediate success. It will take a little more research to be sure of that.

I should perhaps repeat that I am working from the primary sources here. There is plenty of information available about Stoker online and in print. Eventually I may turn to it to fill in some gaps. My objective is not to write any kind of biography, but to look at the primary sources I have readily available, and see what they say.

This article is one in an ongoing series, starting with Bram Stoker, author of Dracula in public records: BMD (Birth, Marriage, Death).

Next: Harriet Daw, Bram Stoker's Cook in 1881. The problem of a small spelling error.

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