Bram Stoker’s claim to enduring fame lies in the book Dracula, perennially popular in every form of cultural expression most especially at Hallow’een. However, this is a posthumous development and, in his lifetime, Stoker was best known as a writer of non-fiction. The last, and most popular, of his four non-fiction books was a work called Famous Imposters (1910) the author’s curious study of duplicitous behaviour and fraudulent schemes throughout history.
The manuscript draft of this work has long been part of the collections in the Library having been purchased in the early 1970s. It is not a very early draft of the work; rather it is a lightly amended late version with several chapters missing. Some of these missing sections had previously been sold at auction in 1988. The Library was gratified in 2019 to be able to purchase one of the missing sections. This was the chapter on ‘The Wandering Jew’ a mythical figure destined to walk the earth until the Second Coming of Christ. The tale has its origins in the 13th century.
It was quite unexpected, following the arrival of ‘The Wandering Jew’, to discover that yet another lost section from the same manuscript appeared within a couple of years. Chapter four of Imposters deals with John Law (1671-1729), a financial speculator and architect of the Mississippi Bubble (like the South Sea Bubble, but in Mississippi). The draft version became available in 2022 and a physical check confirmed that it had originally formed part of the manuscript in the Library. The Library was enabled to acquire it with the philanthropic support of the Friends of the Library.
The Friends of the Library is a society interested in increasing knowledge and enjoyment of the Library’s collections. The Friends publicise the activities of the Library and contribute towards the purchase of books and equipment over and above what can be purchased from normal sources. The Friends has a worldwide membership united by a common interest in books and book collecting, scholarship, Irish studies, and in the collections of the Library of Trinity College Dublin. Membership confers many practical benefits including free admission to the Book of Kells exhibition and the Society arranges social and cultural activities for the enjoyment of its members.
The Library is very grateful to the Friends of the Library for their enduring support, and we recall the previous occasion when the Friends’ support facilitated the accession of some Samuel Beckett material.
Dr Jane Maxwell