Danse Macabre (book)

First edition cover

1981 non-fiction book by Stephen King, about horror fiction in print, TV, radio, film and comics, and the influence of contemporary societal fears and anxieties on the genre.

- Danse Macabre (book)

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Stephen King

American author of horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, crime, science-fiction, and fantasy novels.

King in 2007
In 1971, King worked as a teacher at Hampden Academy
Stephen King at the Harvard Book Store, June 6, 2005
Stephen King in 2011
King campaigning for Gary Hart for President in 1984
King at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany, 2013
King's home in Bangor
King wearing a Boston Red Sox jersey at a book signing in November 2004

He related in detail his primary inspiration for writing horror fiction in his non-fiction Danse Macabre (1981), in a chapter titled "An Annoying Autobiographical Pause".

Dennis Etchison

American writer and editor of fantasy and horror fiction.

Etchison at the 2008 World Horror Convention in Salt Lake City.

In 1983, Etchison was asked by Stephen King to be the film consultant/historian on the paperback edition of King's 1981 book on the horror genre, Danse Macabre.

The Stand

Post-apocalyptic dark fantasy novel written by American author Stephen King and first published in 1978 by Doubleday.

First edition cover
The Complete and Uncut Edition cover

In Danse Macabre, King writes about the origins of The Stand at some length.

Thriller (American TV series)

American anthology television series that aired during the 1960–61 and 1961–62 seasons on NBC.

Title card
Boris Karloff in Thriller (1960)

In Danse Macabre, Stephen King's 1981 history and critique of horror fiction, King suggests that Thriller was the best series of its kind up to that point.

Harlan Ellison

American writer, known for his prolific and influential work in New Wave speculative fiction and for his outspoken, combative personality.

Ellison in 1986
Ellison's 1957 novella "The Savage Swarm", cover-featured in Amazing Stories, has never been included in an authorized collection or anthology.
A few months later, another Ellison novella, "The Steel Napoleon", also took the cover of Amazing. It also remains uncollected.
Another uncollected Ellison novella, "Satan Is My Ally", was the cover story on the May 1957 issue of Fantastic Science Fiction.
Ellison wrote "The Wife Factory" for Fantastic under the house name "Clyde Mitchell". The novella has never been republished.
Ellison's "Suicide World", the cover story for the October 1958 Fantastic, also remains uncollected.
Ellison's "The Abnormals", the cover story for the April 1959 Fantastic, appears in Ellison collections as "The Discarded".
Ellison speaking at an SF convention, 2006

At Stephen King's request, Ellison provided a description of himself and his writing in Danse Macabre: "My work is foursquare for chaos. I spend my life personally, and my work professionally, keeping the soup boiling. Gadfly is what they call you when you are no longer dangerous; I much prefer troublemaker, malcontent, desperado. I see myself as a combination of Zorro and Jiminy Cricket. My stories go out from here and raise hell. From time to time some denigrater or critic with umbrage will say of my work, 'He only wrote that to shock.' I smile and nod. Precisely."

Ramsey Campbell

English horror fiction writer, editor and critic who has been writing for well over fifty years.

Campbell at a book signing in New Brighton, 2013
The Inhabitant of the Lake and Less Welcome Tenants 1964 dust-jacket, illustrated by Frank Utpatel
An image of Gla'aki and one of its minions, derived from Campbell's story "The Inhabitant of the Lake"
Alone with the Horrors 1st edition cover, illustrated by Jeffrey K. Potter
Campbell at the 2015 Liverpool Horror Festival

In 1981, Stephen King published a semi-autobiographical overview of the horror field, Danse Macabre. In a chapter focusing on 20th century practitioners, King devoted a section to Campbell's fiction, alongside that of Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, Peter Straub, Richard Matheson, Jack Finney and others.

Horror fiction

Genre of speculative fiction which is intended to frighten, scare, or disgust.

An Illustration of Poe's "The Raven" by Gustave Doré
Athenodorus
Vlad III
Horace Walpole wrote the first Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto (1764), initiating a new literary genre.
Mary Shelley by Richard Rothwell (1840–41)
Stephen King
Illustration from an 1882 issue of Punch: An English editorial cartoonist conceives the Irish Fenian movement as akin to Frankenstein's monster, in the wake of the Phoenix Park killings. Menacing villains and monsters in horror literature can often be seen as metaphors for the fears incarnate of a society.

Stephen King, Danse Macabre. New York: Everest House, 1981. ISBN: 978-0896960763.

Shirley Jackson

American writer known primarily for her works of horror and mystery.

King, Stephen. Danse Macabre. Everest House, 1981.

H. P. Lovecraft

American writer of weird, science, fantasy, and horror fiction.

Lovecraft in June 1934
Sarah, Howard, and Winfield Lovecraft in 1892
Whipple Van Buren Phillips
Lovecraft in 1915
Lovecraft and Sonia Greene on July 5, 1921
Lovecraft's final home, May 1933 until March 10, 1937
H. P. Lovecraft's gravestone
H. P. Lovecraft as an eighteenth-century gentleman by Virgil Finlay
Colin Wilson in 1984
H. P. Lovecraft memorial plaque at 22 Prospect Street in Providence. Portrait by silhouettist E. J. Perry.
S. T. Joshi in 2002
August Derleth in 1962

King stated in his semi-autobiographical non-fiction book Danse Macabre that Lovecraft was responsible for his own fascination with horror and the macabre and was the largest influence on his writing.

The Haunting of Hill House

1959 gothic horror novel by American author Shirley Jackson.

Cover of the first edition

Stephen King, in his book Danse Macabre (1981), a non-fiction review of the horror genre, lists The Haunting of Hill House as one of the finest horror novels of the late 20th century and provides a lengthy review.