Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

Genres - Horror, Drama

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The grandnephew of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Dublin-born author/editor Joseph Sheridan LeFanu was educated at Trinity College. Noted as an editor of several magazines throughout his career, he also authored (often anonymously) a considerable body of short fiction, much of it originally published in the Dublin University Magazine, which he edited. LeFanu had been an active member of Dublin's social and intellectual life until the death of his wife in 1858, after which he adopted the life of a recluse. It was at this point that he began writing, in earnest -- and often from bed -- his gothic chillers and horror stories, which became his major legacy. His most well-known novels include the gothic mystery Uncle Silas (which was still receiving fresh attention from filmmakers and television producers 120 years after its 1864 publication), Wylder's Hand (1864), and Guy Deverell (1865). His greatest influence, however, resides with his short fiction, which was rescued from obscurity in the 20th century by author and scholar M.R. James. Green Tea is one of the most respected and chilling ghost stories ever written, with Schalken the Painter not far behind. His best-known work, though, is Carmilla, a blatantly sexual and carnal vampire story originally published in 1872, which Bram Stoker freely admitted was an influence on his own Dracula and was the basis for Carl Theodor Dreyer's Vampyr (1931). Carmilla was put to film in 1970 under the title The Vampire Lovers, which is merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of the story's importance. Its influence, direct and indirect (and that of LeFanu's other works), can safely be said to extend to most screen treatments of vampires, at least until the advent of Richard Matheson's work.