Other than the fact they lived at the same time and were Irish, Abraham "Bram" Stoker, author of Dracula, and famed playwright Oscar Wilde didn't have a ton in common...at first. That is, except for the fact that, together, they lived out the scenario of an R. Kelly music video. In fact, they both dated the same girl.
This love triangle started in Dublin in 1875, when both young men fell head-over-heels for a woman named Florence Balcombe. Bram spent that holiday season with the Wilde clan, whose numbers included Oscar. Though the two men weren't super-close, they'd known one another for quite some time. Around that time, Oscar met Flo and they started dating; he described her as "just seventeen with the most perfectly beautiful face I ever saw and not a sixpence of money."
Oscar Wilde's sketch of Florence Balcombe. Image via the Women's Museum of Ireland.
Named for Florence Nightingale, Miss Balcombe was quite the lovely heart-breaker. The following year, O.W. visited her, painted portraits for her, and composed verse, but, by 1877, things had petered out. Why? Perhaps because Wilde wasn't in a financial place to bring home a bride. Although later famously arrested for homosexuality after losing a big libel case, Wilde did also marry and father children.
By 1878, "Florrie," as Oscar called his ex, was already engaged again...to her former lover's old friend, Bram Stoker, then a manager at a Dublin theater. They wed on December 4 of that year; she was nineteen, he thirty-one. Reports have it that Oscar wasn't happy; he asked Florence to return to him a gold cross he'd given her and had inscribed with his name, which he said was a reminder of their two sweet years together. She, in turn, requested the return of many letters she'd sent him over the years. Tensions between the Stokers and Wilde, both big presences on the Dublin literary scene, seemed to have eased after 1884, when Wilde himself wed.
Interestingly, modern literary scholars have used this love triangle as a lens through which to interpret Stoker's Dracula. Meanwhile, Florence herself became best known for her battle against the creators of the film Nosferatu for stealing the plot of Dracula.
Feature images via Wikimedia Commons Public Domain.