Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu was born 200 years ago today. He was an Irish writer, who is still well-known for mystery novels and short stories about the supernatural. He was the leading ghost-story writer of the nineteenth century and played a central part in the development of the genre during the Victorian era. He wrote a famous vampire story called Carmilla, for instance, 25 years before Bram Stoker wrote Dracula.
Born in 1814 in Dublin, le Fanu was brought up by a strict Protestant man of religion in a Catholic country. The family never had enough money to keep up the social position they wanted and they faced constant financal difficulties.
Le Fanu trained to become a lawyer but switched careers to journalism instead and later had financial stakes in several newspapers. Like his father though, he was always short of money, despite the fact that he was the most important writer of ghost and mystery stories of his age. He died in 1873.
Le Fanu is one of several exciting writers of ghost stories featured on Read Listen Learn.
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