The genres of fantasy, horror and science fiction are relatively new and still exciting areas of literary exploration. The following horror, fantasy fiction writers changed the way we perceive stories today:
1. H.P. Lovecraft
H.P. Lovecraft was an author of horror fantasy fiction who inspired legions of artists, filmmakers, musicians, and writers alike. Born August 20, 1890, he never ventured far from his birthplace of Providence, Rhode Island, where he wrote his distinctive tales until his death on March 15, 1937 from intestinal cancer at the age of 46. His most popular stories, often exploring grotesque personal mythologies with painstaking attention to detail, are contained within the collected works The Call of Cthulhu. Unfortunately Lovecraft never saw his works popularly published and lived in absolute poverty, eating expired canned food in his final years. He wrote to a friend, “I have no illusions concerning the precarious status of my tales, and do not expect to become a serious competitor of my favorite weird authors.” Yet, his tales are revered to this day. Stephen King calls him “the 20th century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale.”
2. George MacDonald
George MacDonald was one of the pioneers of fantasy fiction. He was a Scottish writer born December 10, 1824 and died September 18, 1905 after writing books that inspired many in his wake including C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Walter de la Mare, E. Nesbit, Madeleine L’Engle, and many more. “I have never concealed the fact that I regarded him as my master; indeed I fancy I have never written a book in which I did not quote from him,” says Lewis. MacDonald was a Christian minister and his work was filled with allegoric tales of morality, juxtaposing fairy tale elements with colorful imagery, religious references, and nightmarish creatures. His most well-known novels are The Princess and the Goblin, At the Back of the North Wind, Lilith and Phantastes. He also wrote fairy tales and said of them “I write, not for children, but for the child-like, whether they be of five, or fifty, or seventy-five.”
3. William Hope Hodgson
William Hope Hodgson was an English author of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. Born November 15, 1877, he died in April 1918 during World War I at the age of 40. He spent many of his early years at sea and the theme of the ocean runs through many of his works, including Sargasso Sea Stories, The House on the Borderland, and The Night Land. He created contemplative, cosmic horror stories that were as psychedelic as they were terrifying.
4. Arthur Machen
Arthur Machen was a Welsh author of supernatural fantasy horror. He was also a mystic, born March 3, 1863 and died December 15, 1947. His book, The Great God Pan is considered among many, including Stephen King to be one of the best horror stories ever written. Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, William Butler Yeats, Arthur Conan Doyle, and many more legendary writers were greatly inspired by his work.
5. Lord Dunsany
Lord Dunsany was an Irish fantasy writer who published 80 books as well as hundreds of short stories, plays, and essays. Born July 24, 1878, he died in Dublin after an appendicitis attack October 25, 1957. He worked with W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory, Percy French, Padraic Colum, and many others. He was an eclectic eccentric as exemplified by earning champion status in Ireland for both chess and pistol shooting.
With the immense popularity of book series like A Song of Ice and Fire and Harry Potter, it’s clear that this genre still inspires the imagination of the world and allows us to experience storytelling and hero’s journeys through the fantasy.