James Herbert: Grandmaster of Horror
To me James Herbert has always been as famous a horror author as Stephen King, back when I was a boy he was the most prolific writer of the dark and demented side of literature here in the UK. Famous for his intricate and detailed descriptions of various unpleasant and horrific acts of violence, his books are hard hitting and brutal and definitely not for the faint of heart. I recently recommended him to a fellow WordPresser and was surprised when she mentioned that she had never heard of him before and so for the fellow uninitiated in the works of one of England’s most beloved horror writers … read on.
James John Herbert was born in London in 1943, he was the son of Herbert Herbert (really!) who worked in London’s famous Brick Lane market as a stall holder. James attended school in Bethnal Green, that was until, at the grand old age of 11 he won a scholarship to the exclusive St Aloysius college, so exclusive in fact only around 180 pupils are admitted per year. He left the college at 15 and moved to Hornsey college of art, after joining an advertising company based there.
His first successful horror novel is the classic: The Rats, released in 1974 it told the tale of a deadly plague of giant, highly intelligent black rats who rampage across London killing the unwary and slowly taking over the city and feeding off it’s population. It was an unflinching and brutal piece and set the style and tone for his writing in later books. It was a massive success, with the initial 100,000 copies that were printed selling out in a mere 3 weeks. It was popular enough to spawn a 1982 film adaptation called Deadly Eyes, and also two novel sequels: Lair in 1979 and Domain in 1984. A graphic novel sequel to Domain came out in 1993 called The City.
From his first big success with The Rats, Herbert went on to massive critical acclaim with many subsequent and best selling fantasy horror novels including: The Survivor, Fluke, The Dark, Moon and The Magic Cottage amongst many many others. In 2010 Herbert was made ‘The Grandmaster of Horror’ by the World Horror Convention, he was presented the award by his good friend Stephen King. He was a placid and calm man who actually abhorred violence, though found that the horrors he wrote in his novels “poured out of me”. He was given an O.B.E by the Queen in 2010 to honour his work as a best selling English author, he sadly passed away 20th March 2013, leaving behind some of the most chilling and well written horror of this generation.