The Top 20 Greatest Horror Writers of All-time Comments -


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acgilbert 10/12/2010 10:53:53 AM

"Why keep the list only to MALES -- why not any females? I would have liked to see V.C. Andrews here." - avidbookreader

^ Virginia Andrews didn't write all that much herself... she died before most of the "V.C. Andrews" novels were written and published. Andrew Niederman was hired by her estate to be a ghost writer. While the novels are generally based on Virginia Andrews' plot outlines, they can't entirely be said to be written by her, a female... rather the majority were written by Andrew Niederman, a male... I know it sounds like I'm splitting hairs, but it seems to me that there's too great a difference between conjuring up a great story (horror or otherwise) and actually writing a great story... I've read too many books where the plot was fantastic (or could have been fantastic), and crummy writing ruined the whole story... Virginia Andrews came up with a lot of great stories (of this I have no doubt as I own 90-95% of all of the V.C. Andrews books), but I don't think it's entirely accurate to say that V.C. Andrews is entirely a female author

I'm actually stunned that Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu wasn't mentioned... Just looking at the power of his influence he really should’ve gotten an honorable mention, at the least… I mean he had a clear influence on Bram Stoker (Le Fanu owned the paper that gave Stoker his first paying writing job), and it’s been stated many times in many forums that he was the greatest influence on M.R. James (#8 on the list). James, who turned around and largely influenced Lovecraft, King and Matheson (The Top 3 of the list), as well as Ramsey Campbell (#7 on the list)… That all began with Le Fanu… and he can’t even get an honorable mention??? Are you kidding me???

Btw, not nearly Top 20 material yet (considering she's new to the field, and, as such, doesn't have very many novels out at all), but there's an upcoming UK author, Alex Bell, who has written two excellent, EXCELLENT novels that could fall within the "horror/supernatural" guidelines (The Ninth Circle, and Jasmyn). These are just awesome books. I've never been so enveloped in a shroud of gloom and dismay while reading a book. The aura she manages to create for her readers is just unbelievable, especially in an up-and-coming author. Definitely worth checking out. And if she were to continue to write novels of the horror/supernatural genre, and write them as well as the two books I just mentioned, I could see her breaking into the Top 20...

acgilbert 10/14/2010 12:45:19 PM

Amendment to my last comment (I can't believe I failed to mention it earlier):

Le Fanu's horror novels/stories were considered so great that, in the U.K., it became customary for Victorian hosts to provide their overnight guests with a collection of Le Fanu's stories, placed on their bedside tables, to read in the "hours after midnight".

Add that to the fact that one of the first greatest vampire novels, Carmilla, was a product of his genius and directly inspired Dracula... and it seems to me that leaving Le Fanu off the list (and not even giving him an honorable mention or any recognition in the previous comments) is a huge offense...

Also forgot that Daphne Du Maurier is a female horror writer that deserves a great deal of recognition "greatest horror writer"-style...

liquidborgnine 1/27/2011 6:17:48 PM

Nicely written piece.  There are a few writers here who I haven't heard of that I will definitely look into.  But where is British author Robert Aickman?  He would be in my top 5.  Ramsey Campbell is often compared to him.  Aickman, to my tastes, is one of the few authors who wrote in the last 50 years who compares with M.R. James and Poe and Lovecraft.  Also, speaking of classics, where is E.T.A. Hoffmann?  "The Sandman" is one of the most terrifying stories ever written.  Placing Stephen King at #2 almost blew the article for me, though.  I can see where he's a fun airplane read, but no where near in the same league with Lovecraft or Poe.  Or even Ramsey Campbell for that matter. 

Gomro 2/11/2011 3:19:23 AM

My list would be rearranged a bit, but for the most part I can get behind this, and the biggest frog in this particular tiny, toxic pond is the right frog.  Glaring omission: Joseph Payne Brennan.  #2 would be the first to tell you he belongs on here, but since #2 hasn't and probably won't, I'll jump the line.  (Now watch me scroll through the comments and find that he has. Won't there be egg on my face.)

vas1l1 10/30/2011 12:41:07 AM

Some women horror writers like anne rice woulda made this list look kinda nicer. There's a lot of names on the list I'm not familiar with.

Maaian 12/19/2011 9:50:16 AM

 Great find! Thank you.

Meli4649 1/30/2012 4:58:24 PM

I love many of those writers and several of them would be on my own personal "Best of horror" list, but not one woman!? Kinda shocking.

Is this because you haven't read the work of many female horror authors, or you truly believe they aren't as good as their male counterparts? That isn't meant to be snark or sarcastic. I'm genuinely curious...

Still, like I said, many of my personal favorites. I would still encourage you to seek out some wonderfully twisted, deeply dark female talents (if you haven't already).

ColDouglasMortimer 3/14/2012 7:41:06 AM

Great list and well researched and balanced. One notable omission was the great Guy De Maupassant. Certainly the author of such great horror tales as Le Horla, The Necklace, Who Knows?, Diary of a Madman, The Head of Hair, Was it a Dream deserves a place among the pantheon of the greats. Ramsey Campbell thought very highly of him.

Maekju 10/26/2012 4:47:20 PM

Excellent list.  I am just getting into reading horror and this will help me immensely in developing a reading list.  I want to read only the best and from what I have been picking up here and there, the authors you mention are the true masters that any aspiring horror writer should read.

EvaO 8/7/2013 9:20:16 PM

I know this is a super old post, but in the future, some mentioning of female horror writers might be nice. Where would a lot of these guys be without the likes of Shirley Jackson or Mary Shelley?

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