Sheridan Le Fanu Biography

Biography of Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu (1814 - 1873) was an Irish writer of ghost stories, mystery novels and a celebrated vampire story.

Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu (1814 - 1873) was an Irish writer of ghost stories, mystery novels and a celebrated vampire story. It is difficult to say why he is not as popular as Bram Stoker nor why his vampire novella, 'Carmilla', is not as well known as 'Dracula'. He is not particularly fashionable nowadays, while Bram Stoker's story is still rehashed and used as inspiration for many other writers in every possible genre.

Le Fanu was related to the playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan, hence his name. His family was an old Irish Huguenot one, literary and well-educated. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and was called to the bar but did not practice law, setting himself up in journalism the following year by buying the 'Warden' and the 'Protestant Guardian' and editing them, and acquiring a one-third share of three other newspapers.

His first fictional work was written while he was still a student. 'The Purcell Papers' were eventually collected in three volumes in 1880, long after he had established himself as a writer of the supernatural. He published 14 novels between 1845 and 1873, including 'Uncle Silas' which is still read today. He was also a prolific short story writer. His position with regard to publishing these stories was made much easier by virtue of the fact that he owned and edited the 'Dublin University Magazine' between 1861and 1869, and published many of his stories in it. In fact his first published story, 'The Ghost and the Bonesetter', was published in 1838 (the year he finished his university education) in this magazine, though he obviously did not own it as this point. The same magazine also published 'The Purcell Papers' over a period of time from 1838 - 1840. He also owned the 'Dublin Evening Mail', and other newspapers, and had a long and successful journalistic career as well.



Most of Le Fanu's stories and novels can still be tracked down, although you might have a hard time finding anyone you know who's read any of them. A BBC television production of 'The Wyvern Papers' was made recently, and that might bring him a few new readers. He deserves to be read by lovers of ghost stories as he had a way with words that brought haunted atmospheres brilliantly to life.

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