Known for his Gothic or Victorian Gothic tales, Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu (1814 – 1873) was the leading horror or ghost-story writer of the nineteenth century.
Le Fanu was raised in Ireland, of Huguenot descent, into a literary family. While some of his family were playwrights and novelists, his father was a Church of Ireland clergyman, who raised his family in strict Protestant, Calvinist traditions. They moved to Southern Ireland in 1826, a sparsely populated area in Southern Ireland, where Le Fanu took to educating himself in his father's library.
Le Fanu studied law at Trinity College, but turned to journalism and began writing for the Dublin University Magazine in 1838. His first published ghost story was The Ghost and the Bone-Setter (1838).
Carmilla, Le Fanu's stunning lesbian vampire thriller (1872), inspired Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897), and vampire-themed literature that pervades popular culture to this day. Le Fanu's popular novella prompted several movies including Carl Theodor Dreyer's Vampyr (1932) and The Vampire Lovers (1970).
Visit our Gothic Literature study guide for other leading authors' works of horror.