New York: American Sports Publishing, 1893. Near Fine.
This group of letters from Henry Irving and his assistant, Bram Stoker, were sent to John Sergeant Wise, an American author and politician and a friend of Irving's. The first four letters each express Irving's regret that he must decline Wise's offer to join him for various dinner invitations. Written in Stoker's hand, the letters are very polite and address the recipient as "My dear Wise," offering the reasons why they must decline Wise's invitations, including plans to attend a supper given by the American Dramatists Society, and a less glamorous "busy day." The fifth letter, an engraved invitation signed by Irving, invites Wise to join Irving for dinner in New York at the Delmonico. In his book Recollections of Thirteen Presidents (1906), Wise writes briefly about a time in the winter of 1894 or 1895 when Irving was visiting New York. Wise writes that he was "anxious to entertain him," and continues on to describe a lively gathering that Irving and Stoker both attended. Reportedly, Irving remained at the party until 5 in the morning, to the entertainment of Governor William McKinley, who was also in attendance. Although now well-known for his 1897 novel Dracula, the Irish author Bram Stoker first made a name for himself during his lifetime by working as the personal assistant and business manager to Henry Irving, an English stage actor. Scholars have agreed that the titular character in Stoker's Gothic horror novel was largely inspired by Irving, whose manipulative personality and calculated, courteous mannerisms inspired both fear and awe in his assistant when he was first beginning to write. Stoker himself asked Irving, an actor, to play the character in the book's theatrical adaptation, but was declined. A devoted employee, Stoker continued his decades-long employment with his revered superior even after the publication of this classic work, and in 1906 compiled his memories of the actor in a book, Personal Reminisces of Henry Irving. [Letter 1] Stoker, Bram. New York: 23 November 1893. ALS from Bram Stoker to John Sergeant Wise. One page, written in black ink to recto of Plaza Hotel stationery. My dear Mr. Wise, Mr. Irving asked me to send with his very warm regards your box for Tuesday next 28th, encl. The box for the following months will be sent later on when we get the tickets. What a lovely evening we all had last night. We shall never forget it. Believe me, Yours sincerely, Bram Stoker [Letter 2] Stoker, Bram. New York: March 1894. ALS from Bram Stoker to John Sergeant Wise. One page, written in black ink to recto of Henry Irving's Fourth American Tour stationery folded in half, with tour dates printed in blue ink. A near fine letter with some creasing to folds, else very clean and bright. My dear Wise, I am sorry to say that dinner is an impossibility. Tomorrow we all travel and it is a busy day, and we begin at 7:30… alas! Yours sincerely, Bram Stoker [Letter 3] Stoker, Bram. New York: March 1894. ALS from Bram Stoker to John Sergeant Wise. One page, written in black ink to recto of Plaza Hotel stationery. A near fine letter with very light creasing, still very clean and bright. My dear Wise, Irving has given me your kind message and he asks me to say that he is awfully sorry his work this week will not allow of his having such a pleasure. He plays eight times and he has simply to live for his work. I hope I shall see you. Yours sincerely, Bram Stoker [Letter 4] Irving, Henry. New York: 27 November 1893. ALS from Henry Irving to John Sergeant Wise. One page, written in black ink to recto of Plaza Hotel stationery, written in Bram Stoker's hand but signed by Henry Irving. A near fine letter with a few creases, a few lines written in ink to bottom left corner noting that the letter was written by Stoker but signed by Irving. My dear Mr. Wise, I am sorry to say that I may not have the pleasure of joining you for supper on Tuesday evening as I have a symbolic duty that night. The American Dramatists Society are giving me a supper and of course I have to be there as soon as possible after the play. I hope we may visit some evening next week when we get out Henry VIII. I shall write you later about it. Believe me, Yours sincerely, Henry Irving [Letter 5] Irving, Henry. New York: 5 March 1894. Engraved Invitation Signed from Henry Irving to John Sergeant Wise. One page, printed to recto of Plaza Hotel engraved invitation. Near fine, with two creases. Together with two envelopes marked "War Department," one with "Bram Stoker / Famous English Actor" written in ink, and the other with "Henry Irving" written in ink. Dear Mr. Wise, May I have the pleasure of your company at dinner at Delmonico’s, on Monday, March 19th, at half past seven o’clock. Believe me, Yours sincerely, Henry Irving.