Portrait of Joseph Sheridan le Fanu


Lifetime: 1814 - 1873 Passed: ≈ 151 years ago





Sheridan Le Fanu

Le Fanu worked in many genres but remains best known for his horror fiction. He was a meticulous craftsman and frequently reworked plots and ideas from his earlier writing in subsequent pieces. Many of his novels, for example, are expansions and refinements of earlier short stories. He specialised in tone and effect rather than "shock horror" and liked to leave important details unexplained and mysterious. He avoided overt supernatural effects: in most of his major works, the supernatural is strongly implied but a "natural" explanation is also possible. The demonic monkey in "Green Tea" could be a delusion of the story's protagonist, who is the only person to see it; in "The Familiar", Captain Barton's death seems to be supernatural, but is not actually witnessed, and the ghostly owl may be a real bird. This technique influenced later horror artists, both in print and on film (see, for example, the film producer Val Lewton's principle of "indirect horror").Though other writers have since chosen less subtle techniques, Le Fanu's finest tales, such as the vampire novella Carmilla and the short story "Schalken the Painter", remain some of the most powerful in the genre. He had enormous influence on one of the 20th century's most important ghost story writers, M. R. James, and although his work fell out of favour in the early part of the 20th century, towards the end of the century interest in his work increased and remains comparatively strong.

Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu (/ˈlɛfən.juː/;[1][2] 28 August 1814 – 7 February 1873) was an Irish writer of Gothic tales, mystery novels, and horror fiction. He was a leading ghost story writer of his time, central to the development of the genre in the Victorian era. M. R. James described Le Fanu as "absolutely in the first rank as a writer of ghost stories”. Three of his best-known works are the locked-room mystery Uncle Silas, the lesbian vampire novella Carmilla, and the historical novel The House by the Churchyard.

Books by Sheridan Le Fanu

Carmilla Cover image


Horror Fiction
Gothic Vampire Homosexuality

Carmilla is a Gothic novella by Joseph Sheridan le Fanu. First published in 1872, it tells the story of a young woman’s susceptibility to the attentions of a female vampire named Carmilla. Carmilla predates Bram Stoker’s Dracula by over twenty years,...

The Room in the Dragon Volant  Cover image

The Room in the Dragon Volant

Horror Fiction Novel
Detective Love Dragon Mystery Church Supernatural Fiction

J. Sheridan LeFanu's Gothic mystery novel is narrated by Richard Beckett, a young Englishman abroad in Napoleonic-era France. He falls instantly in love with a mysterious and imperiled Countess, whom he glimpses momentarily behind her black veil. In...

Madam Crowl's Ghost and Other Tales of Mystery Cover image

Madam Crowl's Ghost and Other Tales of Mystery

Mystery Ghost Story Supernatural Fiction Haunted Gothic Fiction

Enter a world where the line between the living and the dead blurs, and the past casts long, chilling shadows. In "Madam Crowl's Ghost and Other Tales of Mystery" by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, the ethereal and the uncanny reign supreme. These gripping...