February is Women in Horror month, a concept designed to celebrate and assist female creators in the horror genre in gaining opportunities and exposure. Yes, there is a long history of talented women horror writers.
Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin was born in London, England, in 1797. She married poet Percy Shelley in 1816, becoming Mary Shelley. Her iconic novel, Frankenstein: or The Modern Prometheus came about after a contest was proposed by the couple’s friend Lord Byron as to who could write the better horror story. The novel was anonymously published in 1818 as it was believed that no-one would buy a book written by a woman. Mary Shelley’s name appeared on the second edition printed five years later. Although she wrote several more novels, Shelley is forever remembered for Frankenstein.
Daphne Du Maurier was born in 1907, also in London, the grand-daughter of the famous Anglo-French writer, George L. Du Maurier. Du Maurier published her first short story in 1928. She published her terrifying story, The Birds in 1952; Alfred Hitchcock would direct the memorable film adaptation in 1963. For her life of service to literature, Daphne Du Maurier was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (the female equivalent of a knight) in 1969.
Shirley Jackson was born in San Francisco in1916. She entered Syracuse University in 1937, where she published her first story.Jackson later began writing for The New Yorker, which published her disturbing story, The Lottery, in 1948. The story generated the largest volume of mail ever received by the magazine – most of it hateful. The Lottery has since been published in numerous languages and is still required reading in U.S. high schools. In 1959 Shirley Jackson published The Haunting of Hill House, a finalist for the National Book Award and considered one of the best literary ghost stories of the 20th century.
Anne Rice must be the most prolific female horror writer, with over 30 novels to her name. Born and raised in New Orleans, Rice holds a Master of Arts Degree in English and Creative Writing from San Francisco University. Her first book, Interview with the Vampire, began as a short story but was published as a novel in 1976. Rice has since created a rich cast of bloodsuckers in her best-selling Vampire Chronicles, witches in her Lives of the Mayfair Witches, werewolves in her Wolf Gift Chronicles, and even a mummy and a ghost or two.
Born in Helena, Arkansas, multi-talented Mary Lambert is a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design who began her career directing music videos for artists such as Madonna and Janet Jackson. She is best known for directing the film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel Pet Sematary in 1989, and its sequel, Pet Sematary II three years later. In 2005, Lambert directed the film Urban Legends: Bloody Mary, and in 2008, she wrote and directed seven episodes of the television series The Dark Path Chronicles.
Last but certainly not least, Philadelphia born Linda Addison is the eldest of nine children whose love of story-telling grew from listening to her mother tell bed-time tales to her family. In 1997, Addison published Animated Objects, her debut collection of short stories, journal entries, and poetry. In 2001, she became the first African-American author to win the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker Award for her collection of poetry entitled, Consumed, Reduced to Beautiful Gray Ashes. She has subsequently won the prestigious award three more times, most recently in 2013 for the collaborative work, Four Elements.
To commemorate Women in Horror Month, Examiner.com has published a list of 93 up-and-coming female horror writers. (Google 93 Horror Authors You Need to Read Right Now – Examiner.com to find it.) Truly, the future of horror is in women’s hands.