Monday, 11 November 2013

Female authors of gothic, horror, fantasy & science fiction (part 3)

Moving on we get to the 20th century, which brings a vast increase in the number of notable writers. Here are a few ladies born pre-WWII:

Daphne Du Maurier (1907-1989) - There are now a few links between authors: Ann Radcliffe to Jane Austen; Charlotte Dacre to Mary Shelley; Elizabeth Gaskell to Charlotte Brontë. Daphne extends this by writing a biography of Branwell Brontë and being influenced by the writings of Charlotte Brontë. A notable scary short story was committed to screen by Alfred Hitchcock - The Birds (1963). Although having written many novels, including Jamaica Inn (1936) and Rebecca (1938), it is short stories that reveal elements of terror and dark fantasy, such as Don’t Look Now (1971), The Apple Tree (1952) and The Blue Lenses aka The Breaking Point (1959). A recent discovery of short stories written in her youth expands the catalogue and includes The Doll (1937), a gothic tale about a mechanical male sex doll...

Astrid Lindgren (1907-2002) - I’m not sure how fitting this is for such a list, but like Enid Blyton before her, the Swedish Astrid wrote several fantastical children’s book series that are well remembered. Her most famous is Pippi Longstocking (1945-1948, 1969-1975, 1979 & 2000), which tells of a nine year old girl whose father is lost at sea and who has superhuman strength and various other eccentricities.

Tove Jansson (1914-2001) - And another author of well-known children’s books, Tove is the Finnish writer of The Moomins (1945-1993). This fantastical world was created in nine books, with five picture books and a comic strip. It has spread into the formats of TV and film and even a theme park (Moomin World in Naantali, Finland).

Shirley Jackson (1916-1965) - Shirley’s work just keeps growing in the strength of its appreciation, influencing the likes of Neil Gaiman, Stephen King and Richard Matheson among others. Apparently famous for her short story The Lottery (1948), I am more familiar with her for The Haunting of Hill House (1959). That said, she has written a massive amount of short stories with gothic horror titles like The Witchcraft of Salem Village (1956), The Bad Children (1959) (and those two are children's stories!), The Daemon Lover (1949), The Possibility of Evil (1965) and The Very Strange House Next Door (1995). In 2007, the Shirley Jackson Awards were established to recognise outstanding achievements in psychological suspense, horror and the dark fantastic.

Anne McCaffrey (1926-2011) - Anne is a fantasy and science-fiction legend. She was the first woman to win a Hugo Award for fiction, the first to win a Nebula Award and had one of the first sci-fi novels to hit the New York Times Best Seller list, The White Dragon (1978). A prodigious writer, I will highlight her Dragonriders of Pern series (started in 1967 and still going via her son, Todd) and leave you to search out the wealth of other material.

These write-ups are getting longer (as is my ‘to read’ list). Please share your thoughts in the comments. Next week, we finally get to highlight some authors that are still alive!

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